Guardini has Cavendish's number in Vedelago

He’d waited almost three weeks but in the sprinters’ final opportunity Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia) finally delivered, winning stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia. It was a triumph worth waiting for, worth the jibes he’d received from the Italian press who questioned why he had failed to impress in any of the previous sprints, and certainly worth remaining in the race for after so many of his sprint rivals had packed up and gone home.

Finishing ahead of Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) and Roberto Ferrari (Androni) the Farnese rider has finally arrived on the big stage.

“I’m still very young and I’ve got to develop a lot as a rider. I’ve really suffered on the climbs in this Giro d’Italia but 198 riders started the Giro and now there’s only 168 left. That proves something," Guardini said.

“During the first week of the Giro d’Italia I didn’t believe in myself enough. I’d been struggling in the sprints and things hadn’t been going my way. I knew this sprint was the last chance I had. I knew it suited me because it was so flat. I knew my chance was today or that I’d have to wait until next year. I knew I could beat Cavendish but I knew I had to jump first and by doing that today, I’ve realised what I can do.”

“The difference between winning this sprint and winning one after 250km of racing all comes down to experience. A few years ago Cavendish struggled on the climbs and he’s amazing, as he proved by winning Milano-Sanremo at the first attempt and at my age. I think I’m a similar kind of sprinter as Cavendish but my idol was Robbie McEwen who retired a few days ago.”

Stage 18 from San Vito Cardore to Vedelago, less than 150km long and on flat and downhill roads, marked the sprinters last chance of taking a stage and everything pointed towards Cavendish’s fourth stage win of the race. Matthew Goss, Mark Renshaw and Theo Boss had long since left the race and Cavendish, who snapped up the maximum points on offer at the day’s intermediate sprint, looked as hungry as ever.

The world champion appeared crowded out though as the peloton raced towards the line. With Peter Kennaugh out of the race Sky was missing a key ingredient from its train and Bernhard Eisel and Geraint Thomas were forced to work overtime inside the final 10 kilometres. Omega Pharma-Quickstep and Saxo Bank decided to take charge but inside the final kilometre Eisel nudged his way through the chaos and towards the front. Thomas and Cavendish were glued to his wheel and the stage winning headlines were being prepared.

There was the inevitable and messy scramble for the world champion’s wheel, a position almost as difficult to achieve as a sprint win itself. Roberto Ferrari and Guardini were the principle contenders, with the Farnese rider eventually yielding as Thomas hit the front inside the final 500.

But while Cavendish’s glory looked almost inevitable, an Italian 22-year-old from Pregnago thought otherwise, launching his sprint just as Cavendish raised himself from the saddle. The Italian went on the right, first around Ferrari and then the tiring Thomas as Cavendish struggled on the left.

As Cavendish looked to his right the writing was on the wall, and Guardini was able to raise his hands and saviour the biggest day in his career. A new winner, a new headline, a new sprinter has arrived.

After yesterday’s mammoth stage through the Dolomites and the legendary climb up the Passo Giau, the riders at this year’s Giro d’Italia set off for their final flat stage of the race. In usual circumstances the prospect of just 139 kilometres would be walk in the park. However after nearly three-weeks of racing, and with a number of teams still without a stage win, stage 18 was always destined to be tougher than expected.

After just 20 kilometres the first break formed with Manuele Boaro (Saxo Bank), Stef Clement (Rabobank), Pier Paolo De Negri (Farnese Vini) and Angelo Pagani (Colnago-CSF Inox) going clear. Their lead stretched to 3 minutes before Sky and Omega Quickstep began to muster their troops.

With an intermediate sprint at kilometre 84 and Cavendish keen to claim as many points as possible ahead of a mountain double header and time trial Sky stretched themselves to bring the break back.

And once the British sprinter achieved the first aim of the day Sky allowed another move to go clear.

Clement was present again, clearly hoping he could rescue Rabobank’s poor Giro single-handedly. On this occasion he was joined by Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team), Olivier Kaisen (Lotto Belisol Team) and Mickael Delage (FDJ-Big Mat).

Kaisen had more breakaway kilometres in his legs than any other rider in the race - 639 – with Keizer a close second at 612 and the foursome built up a lead approaching a minute with 46 kilometres remaining.

Sky reacted by putting the dependable Ian Stannard on the front, and the lone Sky rider kept the gap in check before a number of teams rolled up their sleeves and joined the pursuit.

Delage was the last man standing, and was briefly joined by Lars Bak, but the pair were never given much leeway, a gap of 11 seconds their biggest buffer.

Caught inside the final 4 kilometres it all came back together.

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Full Results
1Andrea Guardini (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia3:00:52
2Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky ProcyclingRow 1 - Cell 2
3Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Androni GiocattoliRow 2 - Cell 2
4Robert Hunter (RSA) Garmin - BarracudaRow 3 - Cell 2
5Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo BankRow 4 - Cell 2
6Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack-NissanRow 5 - Cell 2
7Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha TeamRow 6 - Cell 2
8Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 7 - Cell 2
9Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) FDJ-Big MatRow 8 - Cell 2
10Dennis Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol TeamRow 9 - Cell 2
11Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 10 - Cell 2
12Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 11 - Cell 2
13Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 12 - Cell 2
14Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 13 - Cell 2
15Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La MondialeRow 14 - Cell 2
16Sacha Modolo (Ita) Colnago - CSF InoxRow 15 - Cell 2
17Alex Rasmussen (Den) Garmin - BarracudaRow 16 - Cell 2
18Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 17 - Cell 2
19Daniel Schorn (Aut) Team NetAppRow 18 - Cell 2
20Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 19 - Cell 2
21Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 20 - Cell 2
22Marco Coledan (Ita) Colnago - CSF InoxRow 21 - Cell 2
23Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Col) Androni GiocattoliRow 22 - Cell 2
24Gatis Smukulis (Lat) Katusha TeamRow 23 - Cell 2
25Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Colnago - CSF InoxRow 24 - Cell 2
26Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 25 - Cell 2
27Gregor Gazvoda (Slo) AG2R La MondialeRow 26 - Cell 2
28Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 27 - Cell 2
29Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Colnago - CSF InoxRow 28 - Cell 2
30Oscar Gatto (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle ItaliaRow 29 - Cell 2
31Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky ProcyclingRow 30 - Cell 2
32Christian Meier (Can) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 31 - Cell 2
33Gabriel Rasch (Nor) FDJ-Big MatRow 32 - Cell 2
34Francis De Greef (Bel) Lotto Belisol TeamRow 33 - Cell 2
35Julien Berard (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 34 - Cell 2
36Nelson Oliveira (Por) RadioShack-NissanRow 35 - Cell 2
37Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La MondialeRow 36 - Cell 2
38Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 37 - Cell 2
39Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin - BarracudaRow 38 - Cell 2
40Simone Ponzi (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 39 - Cell 2
41Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 40 - Cell 2
42Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Movistar TeamRow 41 - Cell 2
43Dominique Rollin (Can) FDJ-Big MatRow 42 - Cell 2
44Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 43 - Cell 2
45Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro TeamRow 44 - Cell 2
46Fabio Felline (Ita) Androni GiocattoliRow 45 - Cell 2
47Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 46 - Cell 2
48Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Blr) Katusha TeamRow 47 - Cell 2
49Matthias Brandle (Aut) Team NetAppRow 48 - Cell 2
50Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 49 - Cell 2
51Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 50 - Cell 2
52Jackson Rodriguez (Ven) Androni GiocattoliRow 51 - Cell 2
53John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 52 - Cell 2
54Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky ProcyclingRow 53 - Cell 2
55Guillaume Bonnafond (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 54 - Cell 2
56Dario Cataldo (Ita) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 55 - Cell 2
57Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 56 - Cell 2
58Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 57 - Cell 2
59Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 58 - Cell 2
60Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 59 - Cell 2
61Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 60 - Cell 2
62Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol TeamRow 61 - Cell 2
63Michal Golas (Pol) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 62 - Cell 2
64Pavel Brutt (Rus) Katusha TeamRow 63 - Cell 2
65Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha TeamRow 64 - Cell 2
66Svein Tuft (Can) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 65 - Cell 2
67Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - BarracudaRow 66 - Cell 2
68Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha TeamRow 67 - Cell 2
69Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 68 - Cell 2
70Pierre Cazaux (Fra) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 69 - Cell 2
71Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 70 - Cell 2
72Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 71 - Cell 2
73Adriano Malori (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 72 - Cell 2
74Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 73 - Cell 2
75Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle ItaliaRow 74 - Cell 2
76Matteo Carrara (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 75 - Cell 2
77Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Team NetAppRow 76 - Cell 2
78Andreas Dietziker (Swi) Team NetAppRow 77 - Cell 2
79Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - BarracudaRow 78 - Cell 2
80Juan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 79 - Cell 2
81Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Colnago - CSF InoxRow 80 - Cell 2
82Eros Capecchi (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 81 - Cell 2
83Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJ-Big MatRow 82 - Cell 2
84Marco Pinotti (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 83 - Cell 2
85Jesse Sergent (NZl) RadioShack-NissanRow 84 - Cell 2
86Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 85 - Cell 2
87Cristiano Salerno (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 86 - Cell 2
88Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin - BarracudaRow 87 - Cell 2
89Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin - BarracudaRow 88 - Cell 2
90Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 89 - Cell 2
91Jon Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 90 - Cell 2
92Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 91 - Cell 2
93Johann Tschopp (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 92 - Cell 2
94Mathieu Perget (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 93 - Cell 2
95Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago - CSF InoxRow 94 - Cell 2
96Oliver Zaugg (Swi) RadioShack-NissanRow 95 - Cell 2
97Nikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 96 - Cell 2
98Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 97 - Cell 2
99Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Colnago - CSF InoxRow 98 - Cell 2
100Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 99 - Cell 2
101Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 100 - Cell 2
102Francesco Failli (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle ItaliaRow 101 - Cell 2
103Ivan Velasco Murillo (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 102 - Cell 2
104Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Katusha TeamRow 103 - Cell 2
105Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 104 - Cell 2
106Mikhail Ignatyev (Rus) Katusha TeamRow 105 - Cell 2
107Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Saxo BankRow 106 - Cell 2
108Branislau Samoilau (Blr) Movistar TeamRow 107 - Cell 2
109José Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 108 - Cell 2
110Evgeny Petrov (Rus) Astana Pro TeamRow 109 - Cell 2
111Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre - ISDRow 110 - Cell 2
112Thomas Rohregger (Aut) RadioShack-NissanRow 111 - Cell 2
113Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Team Saxo BankRow 112 - Cell 2
114Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack-NissanRow 113 - Cell 2
115Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Belisol TeamRow 114 - Cell 2
116Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) FDJ-Big MatRow 115 - Cell 2
117Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 116 - Cell 2
118Miguel Minguez Ayala (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 117 - Cell 2
119Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol TeamRow 118 - Cell 2
120Matteo Rabottini (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle ItaliaRow 119 - Cell 2
121Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro TeamRow 120 - Cell 2
122Ben Hermans (Bel) RadioShack-NissanRow 121 - Cell 2
123Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ-Big MatRow 122 - Cell 2
124Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 123 - Cell 2
125Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar TeamRow 124 - Cell 2
126Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky ProcyclingRow 125 - Cell 2
127Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Col) Androni GiocattoliRow 126 - Cell 2
128Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 127 - Cell 2
129Jan Barta (Cze) Team NetAppRow 128 - Cell 2
130Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 129 - Cell 2
131Gustav Larsson (Swe) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 130 - Cell 2
132Pier Paolo De Negri (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle ItaliaRow 131 - Cell 2
133Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Garmin - BarracudaRow 132 - Cell 2
134Emanuele Sella (Ita) Androni GiocattoliRow 133 - Cell 2
135Angelo Pagani (Ita) Colnago - CSF InoxRow 134 - Cell 2
136Ivan Santaromita (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 135 - Cell 2
137Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Sky ProcyclingRow 136 - Cell 2
138Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 137 - Cell 2
139Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 138 - Cell 2
140Brian Bulgac (Ned) Lotto Belisol TeamRow 139 - Cell 2
141Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Katusha TeamRow 140 - Cell 2
142Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ-Big MatRow 141 - Cell 2
143Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 142 - Cell 2
144Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Team Saxo BankRow 143 - Cell 2
145Alfredo Balloni (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle ItaliaRow 144 - Cell 2
146Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo BankRow 145 - Cell 2
147José Rujano Guillen (Ven) Androni Giocattoli0:00:21
148Alexsandr Dyachenko (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 147 - Cell 2
149Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Sky ProcyclingRow 148 - Cell 2
150Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Androni GiocattoliRow 149 - Cell 2
151Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quickstep0:00:25
152Victor Cabedo (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 151 - Cell 2
153Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team NetAppRow 152 - Cell 2
154Stefan Denifl (Aut) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 153 - Cell 2
155Martijn Keizer (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:00:27
156Julien Vermote (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 155 - Cell 2
157Timon Seubert (Ger) Team NetApp0:00:43
158Jonas Aaen Jörgensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank0:00:56
159Manuele Boaro (Ita) Team Saxo Bank0:01:00
160Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Team NetApp0:01:36
161Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling0:02:25
162Marco Bandiera (Ita) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 161 - Cell 2
163Olivier Kaisen (Bel) Lotto Belisol TeamRow 162 - Cell 2
164Jack Bobridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team0:03:04
165Kevin Seeldraeyers (Bel) Astana Pro TeamRow 164 - Cell 2
166Elia Favilli (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia0:03:22
167Adrian Saez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:04:47
DNSCarlos José Ochoa (Ven) Androni GiocattoliRow 167 - Cell 2
DNSMartin Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 168 - Cell 2
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Maglia Rossa - Points
1Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling28pts
2Andrea Guardini (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia25Row 1 - Cell 3
3Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Androni Giocattoli16Row 2 - Cell 3
4Robert Hunter (RSA) Garmin - Barracuda14Row 3 - Cell 3
5Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank12Row 4 - Cell 3
6Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan10Row 5 - Cell 3
7Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha Team9Row 6 - Cell 3
8Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quickstep8Row 7 - Cell 3
9Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat7Row 8 - Cell 3
10Dennis Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team6Row 9 - Cell 3
11Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Lampre - ISD6Row 10 - Cell 3
12Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale5Row 11 - Cell 3
13Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team4Row 12 - Cell 3
14Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling4Row 13 - Cell 3
15Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team3Row 14 - Cell 3
16Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD3Row 15 - Cell 3
17Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team2Row 16 - Cell 3
18Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Katusha Team2Row 17 - Cell 3
19Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale1Row 18 - Cell 3
20Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda1Row 19 - Cell 3
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TV - Intermediate sprint - Cesiomaggiore, 84km