Guardini Takes Sprint Victory in Stage 18
Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) is the surprise winner of Stage 18 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia.
Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) is the surprise winner of Stage 18 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia. Guardini outlegged Mark Cavendish (Sky) in a bunch sprint to win the flat, downhill, 149-km run from San Vito di Cadore to Vedelago in 3:00:52. Cavendish settled for second, and Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giacattoli-Venezuela) finished third. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) remains the maglia rosa on the eve of the 2012 Giro's final, decisive stages.
The hostilities began early. At 20 km, Manuele Boaro (Saxo Bank), Stef Clement (Rabobank), Pier Paolo De Negri (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia), and Angelo Pagani (Colnago-CSF Inox) sallied off of the front. The quartet ran up a 3-minute lead before Sky and Omega Pharma-Quick Step began to chase.
The bunch reeled in the break just before the intermediate sprint. Just after the sprint, with about 60 km left, Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil-DCM), Olivier Kaisen (Lotto-Belisol), Clement, and Mickael Delage (FDJ-Big Mat) escaped. The gang of four led by 0:42 with about 35 km remaining and a little more than 1:00 with about 25 km to go.
Sky began to chase. With about 20 km left, the gap had narrowed to 0:30. At about that distance, Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) had a mechanical problem. Six Lampre-ISD riders dropped back to tow him to the bunch.
With 10 km to go, Lars Bak (Lotto-Belisol) attempted to bridge up to the break. He and Delage led the race with 8 km left, but the Sky-led peloton was having none of it. The two were reeled in with 3 km left.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Saxo Bank took charge at the front, but Sky forced its way to the front in the last km. Just as Cavendish made his move, Guardini struck. The Italian powered around Ferrari into the lead and held off Cavendish. The Manxman was visibly angry at the finish line.
Throughout this year's Giro, Guardini had attempted to win sprints but had been frustrated. The young Italian 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."
In the overall, Rodriguez leads Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) by 0:30 and Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) by 1:22. Stage 19 will be a high mountain stage that will shake up the standings. The 198-km ride from Treviso to Alpe di Pampeago will feature 3 Category 1 climbs, including the climb to the finish. Who will win? Who will take the maglia rosa? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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