Jacopo Guarnieri (Liquigas-Doimo) was the fastest of a group of around 30 riders in Sunday’s opening Tour of Poland stage after a massive crash blighted the build-up to the final bunch sprint.
The second-year Italian pro was one of the well-placed few that escaped the huge pile-up, caused when two riders went down in the middle of the pack with about two kilometres to go.
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A well-timed trademark late burst by Sky had placed all their riders for the sprint on the right side of the crash, which blocked the entire road, and with three hundred metres to go a cluster of blue Sky jerseys on the left hand side looked very promising.
However, when Guarnieri charged clear in the middle of the road, the Italian was unstoppable, taking the win by over a bike length on Spain’s Aitor Galdos (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Australian Allan Davis (Astana). Sky’s Chris Sutton finished sixth.
Initial reports said no riders were badly hurt in the crash, although Saxo Bank’s two sprinters, brothers Juan Jose and Lucas Haedo were both brought down, with Lucas suffering a suspected fracture in one arm.
The rest of the stage, a flat 175 kilometre ride into central Warsaw held in warm summer weather, was rather more predictable.
A bunch sprint seemed all but inevitable on the city centre circuit, a series of broad, long avenues with just six corners in 8.8 kilometres.
Lazlo Bodrogi (Katusha) the last survivor of the four man break of the day was caught with a lap and a half to go, Quick Step, Omega-Pharma and Astana all kept the pace high, but a crash left Guarnieri ideally placed to go for his second Tour of Poland stage win in two years and on Monday’s equally flat 240 kilometre stage, he could well claim a third.
Tour of Poland 2010, stage one
1. Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo in 4-05-32
2. Aitor Galdos (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
3. Allan Davis (Aus) Astana
4. Sebastien Chavanel (Fra) Francaise des Jeux
5. Jaroslaw Marycz (Pol) Saxo Bank
6. Chris Sutton (Aus) Team Sky
7. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) BMC Racing Team
8. Marcel Sieberg (Ger) HTC-Columbia
9. Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Quick Step
10. Mathieu Drujon (Fra) Caisse d’Epargne all same time
24. Ben Swift (GB) Team Sky at same time