After missing out on success at the Dubai Tour, the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman, Andrea Guardini (Astana) claimed his first victory of the 2016 season on the opening stage of the Tour de Langkawi –the race where he successfully begun his career in 2011. He took his number of stage wins in the Malaysian race to nineteen but fears it may be more difficult to win other stages after lost a precious Astana teammate in a crash.
In the expected bunch sprint in Baling in the northwest of Malaysia, Guardini beat Australia’s Brenton Jones from Drapac and Skydive Dubai’s Andrea Palini who came second and third respectively.
“It’s always hard to win, especially when being the hot favourite,” Guardini said. “In stage 1, it’s also difficult to take control of the events. Everyone was waiting for my team to do it. Fortunately, Southeast collaborated with us to catch the breakaway. There were good riders at the front but a lot of head wind at the end.”
Speaking later to Cyclingnews, Guardini explained the finale of the stage and the high-speed sprint.
“With five or six kilometers to go, I was on the wheel of Jakub Mareczko of Southeast team with my guys. But I realized we were in the wrong place because we were on their left and the last curve was to the left hand side. I opted for the right side without choosing any particular train to move up. It was a good choice. It enabled me to get out of the wheels of the Drapac riders. I took the curve in third position. I knew it would be narrow but I paid attention to not fall off. The head wind also helped me as I launched my sprint from the third position with 300 metres to go.”
He dedicated the win to his newly born niece. “For the first time I became an uncle last night so this win is for Robin, my niece,” he explained.
Finally winning a sprint was a relief for the Italian, who had hoped to avoid from travelling to Malaysia for the sixth time in his career this season. However he was unable to win at the Dubai Tour so he prepared for the Tour de Langkawi, knowing it is his lucky event.
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