When the race radio crackled and announced that Edoardo Zardini of Bardiani-CSF had attack alone six kilometres from the finish of stage two of the Giro del Trentino, few expected him to hold off the likes of Cadel Evans (BMC), Michele Scarponi (Astana) and Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale).
Yet the little Italian, in only his second season as a professional with Bardiani-CSF had the courage and speed to do just that and confirm that Italian cycling has a new generation of young riders keen to emerge.
By winning alone after the 15km climb to San Giacomo di Brentonico, Zardini showed his talents as a pure climber. It was his first professional victory, not far from his home in Verona and with his parents watching him at the finish. He was in tears after crossing the line.
"I did it! I did it!" he shouted before going to explain exactly how he did it in the stage winner's press conference in the hotel perched above the finish line.
"I felt great today and went for it but it's hard to really understand what I've done," he said.
"I'm not fast in a sprint and so I've never won much even if I'd had some good results. This is my first pro win and to manage to beat some big name riders is incredible. It'll take me some time to realise what I've done."
"I knew I had to drop everyone to win but knew I'd have to be 110% to do it. Fortunately I felt great today and went on the attack with my teammate Pirazzi and two others, then I went alone with about six kilometres to go."
Zardini explained that he hails from Verona and was inspired by the success of local hero Damiano Cunego in the 2004 Giro d'Italia. He was just 14 at the time and had only just started racing. Now he is 24 and his victory has secured him a ride in the Giro d'Italia.
He rode the Giro d'Italia last year as a neo-pro. He finished 138th but suffered with bronchitis. However finishing a Grand Tour gave him the endurance and foundation for a good end of season. He was fourth overall at the Tour of Denmark and was sixth in the uphill finish at the Giro dell'Emilia one-day race.
"Last year the Giro gave me the 'fondo' to make a step up. Now I hope this in will have secured me a place in the Bardiani-CSF team for this year," he said with a hint of confidence.
"Before the Giro del Trentino I went training on Mount Etna with my teammate Manuel Bongiorno. We did four or five thousands metres of climbing a day and I hated him for making me suffer so much but now I've been paid for all the work."
"I don't know if I can do something else here at the Giro del Trentino or even think about the overall classification. But I hope to do something at the Giro d'Italia. Our team will be chasing stage victories every day."
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