Andrea Guardini is a betting man. After his second stage win at Le Tour de Langkawi in his professional debut with Farnese Vini-Neri in January, the 22-year-old Italian got assistant directeur sportif Stefano Giuliani to promise to quit smoking on the premise that he leave Malaysia with five stage wins, which he did, after taking the final stage in Kuala Lumpur.
Now at the Presidential Tour of Turkey, there's a deal for him: "I've told him that he'll get a start at the Giro d'Italia if he wins two stages in Turkey," DS Luca Scinto revealed. "Except [for] Cavendish, the five best sprinters in the world will be present!"
After only one stage in the Turkish event, he has done half of the job as he outsprinted Tyler Farrar and Kenny van Hummel. "Now I'll approach the coming stages with serenity," Guardini told Cyclingnews in Istanbul. "We'll see how I come out of the Turkey and that will determine whether or not I'll ride the Giro d'Italia after that. It's not only a question of winning two stages here in Turkey."
Prior to flying to Istanbul, Guardini thought: "At least three stages suit my characteristics." But it might well be five, with the precedent set by Andre Greipel on a pretty similar course last year.
As he scored his seventh win of the year after five successes at Le Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia and one at the Tour of Qatar, he tops once again the tally of race wins (in UCI category 1 and above) ahead of Alberto Contador, Philippe Gilbert and Thomas Voeckler who have six each since the beginning of the 2011 season. There were some criticisms in Italy over his lack of competition in his early season triumphs, but they have now vanished considering the high level of sprinting in Turkey.
"I hadn't raced for three weeks, except the GP of Denain, but I've trained well," Guardini underlined. Scinto sent him to altitude training after the Settimana Coppi & Bartali in March. This is Guardini's second visit to Turkey for racing.
"I rode the U23 European road championship in the capital Ankara last year," he remembered. "It's been a nice experience but it could have been much better if I didn't break my chain with 3km to go!"
Guardini dedicated his Turkish win to his Farnese Vini-Neri team and to his captain Giovanni Visconti who won the Tour of Turkey last year. "He's now busy gearing up for the Giro d'Italia," Guardini said. "I hope this result today means the end of a period of bad luck for us. We finished the Tour of Turkey with this turquoise jersey last year and we start this year's race the same way. We keep honouring this event that always brings great emotions to our group."
Listening to the flattering comments of Farrar and Van Hummel, Guardini has confirmed for good in Istanbul that he's the next world's best sprinter in the making.
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