Gavazzi hopes to follow father's footsteps

Team Manager Gianni Savio (r) and his 'crazy' guy, Mattia Gavazzi

Team Manager Gianni Savio (r) and his 'crazy' guy, Mattia Gavazzi (Image credit: Bruno Bade)

Italian wins Langkawi's opening stage

By Greg Johnson in Senawang, Malaysia

Mattia Gavazzi (Diquigiovanni-Androni) hopes to one day follow in his father's footsteps and win Milano-Sanremo, the Italian said after winning the Tour of Langkawi's opening stage. The rider's victory on Langkawi's opening stage earned the 25-year-old the praises of team boss Gianni Savio.

"Winning Milano-Sanremo would be, of course, my dream," said Gavazzi. "But it would be the dream of any rider who has my characteristics. I want to be quiet about this goal, because now I have the opportunity to do some races that I've never done before. That will be the lead-up to Classics like Milano-Sanremo.

"In my team there are some fantastic riders like Davide Rebellin, Gilberto Simoni, Alessandro Bertolini," he added. "I want to learn from them first. I'm still young, I have a few more years ahead of me so I'm not in a big rush. I have to keep my feet on the ground before I can set such things as a goal."

Gavazzi's father, Pierino, won the Italian Spring Classic in 1980. Pierino, now 58 years old, claimed three Italian National Championships and stage victories at the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de Romandie throughout his extensive career in the sport.

Savio commended Gavazzi's professionalism since joining the Venezuelan team this year, although admitted the rider had a reputation for being "crazy". Gavazzi was suspended for 14 months after a positive cocaine sample at the Trofeo Papa' Cervi di Gattatico in 2004.

"I want to congratulate Mattia Gavazzi, not only for the win but for the reason that he prepared very, very well during the winter," said Savio. "He is younger and I am sure that he is able to have big results in the future."

The victory was Gavazzi's second of the season. The Italian rider won the Tour of San Luis' opening stage last month in Argentina.

"Each victory is nice," he said. "Both are unexpected, especially the one in Argentina, because I was not supposed to start the season so early. After what I did in Argentina I came here thinking more seriously about winning, so this one is not as unexpected."

Gavazzi's older brother Nicola has also enjoyed some success as a professional cyclist. Now 30 years of age and no longer active, Nicola won the junior GP Tell's stage 4 in 2000 and claimed a professional win on the Regio Tour's stage 3 in 2003.

The Tour of Langkawi continues Tuesday with a 160.9km stage from Senawang to Melaka.

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