Thursday February 28, 2013
Italian rider Andrea Guardini bags first win for new team
By SHAMSHUL FITRI
DUNGUN: Astana sprinter Andrea Guardini ended a six-stage barren run by notching his first win in this year’s Le Tour de Langkawi here.
The Italian sprinter edged compatriot Francesco Chicchi of Vini Fantini in a bunch sprint to capture the 149.8km Stage Seven from Kuantan to Dungun, crossing the finish line in in 3’37:17. Lithuania’s Aidis Kruopis of Orica GreenEdge came in third for the third time in the LTdL this year.
It was a difficult finish for Malaysian sprinters as the final five kilometres were as straight as a die and the peloton was driven fast by the five ProTour teams in the mix.
Mohd Nor Rizuan Zainal of the national team was the best Malaysian finisher in 12th spot.
Overall classification leader Julian Arredondo of Team Nippo finished safely in the leading bunch to hang on to his yellow jersey.
Although it was Guardini’s 12th win in the LTdL, it was still as exciting for the man from Verona, whose victory meant a lot for his team Astana.
“I would like to think this as the first of many with my new team Astana,” said the the 23-year-old, who moved from Farnese Vini last year.
“My last win was at Tour of Qinghai Lake (China) last July ... after that it was a dry period for me.”
Guardini had come close to winning a stage since the opening stage from Kangar to Kulim, where he finished third behind winner Theo Bos (Blanco) and Bryan Coquard (Europcar).
He finished second twice behind Bos in Stage Two and Chicchi in Stage Four.
But with Bos out of the race due to diarrhoea on Tuesday, Guardini took his chances well yesterday.
The early proceedings were marked by a three-man break. Travis Meyer (Orica GreenEdge), Cyril Gautier (Europcar) and Yasuharu Nakajima (Aisan Racing) broke clear from the peloton after just 10km.
At the 23km mark, Nakajima began to wilt, leaving the two leaders with a lead of up to 5:40.
It stayed that way until the other teams stepped up the pace to reel them in at the 111km mark.
“It was a fairly easy day for us in the peloton as we managed to control the break. We let the break go because they posed no threat to my standings,” said Arredondo.
“The race tomorrow (today) will be more difficult to control because it’s longer and has a flat profile.”
Once the peloton caught up with the breakaway duo, team Blanco quickly moved to the front to set up a sprint for two-time LTdL points winner Graeme Brown.
Astana soon joined to share the work upfront with Assan Bazayev and Ruslan Tleubayev and the two guided Guardini into position with 500m to go to the finish line.
“It was a great teamwork today by the team. Bazayev and Tleubayev dropped me off at the right moment and then I was on (Allan) Davis’ (Orica GreenEdge) rear,” said Guardini.
“It was definitely my best moment in the LTdL as the race this year is much harder ... a lot of suffering for me to take this win.”
The 164.5km Stage Eight today is from Kuala Terengganu to Tanah Merah in Kelantan.
Stage Seven results
Kuantan-Dungun (149.8km): 1. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana 3’37:17, 2. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Vini Fantini, 3. Aidis Kruopis (Ltu) Orica GreenEdge, 4. Allan Davis (Aus) Orica GreenEdge, 5. Andrew Fenn (Bri) OmegaPharma-QuickStep, 6. Steele Von Hoff (US) Garmin-Sharp, 7. Graeme Brown (Aus) Blanco, 8. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar, 9. Taiji Nishitani (Jpn) Aisan Racing, 10. Rico Rogers (Aus) Synergy Baku all same time.
Leading overall standings: 1. Julian Arredondo (Col) Team Nippo 25’55:05, 2. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica GreenEdge 1:15 behind, 3. Sergio Pardilla (Spa) MTN Qhubeka 2:10, 4. Peter Stetina (US) Garmin-Sharp 2:32, 5. Wang Meiyin (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling 2:40.
Points competition (blue jersey): 1. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana 72pts, 2. Anuar Manan (Mas) Synergy Baku 50, 3. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Vini Fantini 47.
King of the Mountain (red jersey): 1. Wang Meiyin (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling 48, 2. Julian Arredondo (Col) TeamNippo 45, 3. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica GreenEdge 32.
Best Asian rider (white jersey): 1. Wang Meiyin (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling 25’57:45, 2. Amir Kolahdozhagh (Iri) Tabriz Petrochemical 18secs behind, 3. Mizbani Ghader (Iri) Tabriz Petrochemical 58.