Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini) won the stage 18 sprint in the Giro d’Italia and won it in the best style, over World Champion Mark Cavendish (Sky).
“I don’t have the words to explain this,” Guardini said after the stage on TV. “I beat the world champion, at least today.”
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The Italian placed himself the wheel of Roberto Ferrari (Androni). Ahead, Geraint Thomas led Sky team-mate, Cavendish. Ferrari jumped early on the left, Guardini followed and charged through. Cavendish seemed to be taken by surprise and was unable to recover from Guardini’s jump.
“It was a fast sprint today, he had more energy than me,” Cavendish explained with a shrug of a shoulder. Sky pulled hard all day, placing him to win the intermediate sprint. The race averaged 49.428kph today. “The team worked well today, we reeled in the escape for it.”
Guardini won a record six stages in the Tour of Langkawi this year, stages in Oman, Qatar and Turkey last year, but never one in a Grand Tour. To get it, he had to survive the high mountains. Yesterday he arrived last at 41-15 minutes back.
“We are in the 18th stage, I didn’t believe to be able to arrive to do it either,” Guardini added. “To be in the Giro at this point is just a win in itself. After a win like this, I have to give all I have in these next two days to arrive on my bike in Milan.”
Farnese Vini celebrated down the road in the team bus. It helped Guardini survive and encouraged him to his first win.
“Andrea has a strong character. In the Giro, especially for a sprinter who can’t handle the climbs, it’s harder,” sports director, Serge Parsani told Cycling Weekly.
“We’ve seen him get dropped, re-enter, get dropped again and keep going. He has that grinta, though… I know how much he suffered to arrive to the line. I think that today he got it all out, all the suffering. He sprinted impressively; there was nothing left to do for the others. He was able to raise his arms calmly.
“He wanted to go as far as he could in this Giro to get to this stage. The others weren’t that adapted to his style. Unfortunately, if there’s a small climb in the finish, he’s dropped. Today was perfect for him, not too long. He showed his speed.”
Giro d’Italia 2012: Latest news
Giro d’Italia 2012: Live coverage
Giro d’Italia 2012: Stage reports
Stage 17: Rodriguez wins stage to consolidate lead
Stage 16: Izagirre claims Basque breakaway victory
Stage 15: Rabottini takes tough win in Giro
Stage 14: Amador wins Giro’s first high mountain stage as Hesjedal reclaims lead
Stage 13: Cavendish makes it three
Stage 12: Bak attacks to win
Stage 11: Ferrari wins Giro stage on ride to redemption
Stage 10: Rodriguez wins thrilling finale to take lead
Stage nine: Ventoso wins in Frosinone as Goss and Cavendish fall
Stage eight: Pozzovivo takes another Giro win
Stage seven: Hesjedal moves into Giro lead
Stage six: Rubiano solos to epic Giro stage win
Stage five: Cavendish bounces back for another stage win
Stage four: Garmin-Barracuda win TTT to take lead
Stage three: Goss wins in Horsens as Cavendish and Phinney crash
Stage two: Cavendish wins in Herning
Stage one: Phinney wins time trial
Giro d’Italia 2012: Photo galleries
Giro d’Italia 2012: Blogs
Charly Wegelius’ Giro blog: Conserving energy for the final week
Charly Wegelius’ Giro blog: Holding on to the lead
Charly Wegelius’ Giro blog: Getting the team time trial right
Giro moto blog: Hurray for rest day
Giro moto blog: Stage 10
Giro d’Italia 2012: Teams and riders
Giro d’Italia 2012: TV guide