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“It’s fantastic because this is my fifth win this year. It’s incredible because I’m only at the start of the season and it’s great for me and the team.

Photo: Le Tour de Langkawi 2015

ANDREA GUARDINI

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ASTANA QAZAQSTAN TEAM

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TOUR DE LANGKAWI

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VALERIO AGNOLI

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16.03.2015 @ 02:14 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Andrea Guardini (Astana) confirmed his status as the fastest riders in the Tour de Langkawi when he won the bunch sprint on the final day of the race. The Italian beat Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Michael Kolar (Tinkoff-Saxo) in the final dash to the line while Yoicef Reguigui (MTN-Qhubeka) finished 10th to win the race overall.

 

Andrea Guardini went into the Tour de Langkawi with the all-time record of 14 stage wins in the Malaysian race and after an excellent start to the year, he was expected to be the rider to beat in the bunch sprints. That prediction turned to be true as the Italian continued his love affair with Asia’s biggest race during the 8 days of racing.

 

After he won three of the first four stages of the race, Guardini had a quieter time in the second half of the race where the race entered hillier terrain and where he had his only defeat in a bunch sprint when he dropped his chain on stage 6. Hence, he went into today’s final stage in a determined mood to underline his status as the fastest rider.

 

He faced a tough ask though as illness had hit the Astana team and so he only had two teammates at his side, including Valerio Agnoli who had to take care of his GC ambitions too. However, there was no one stopping Guardini who again emerged as the fastest when the fast race in Kuala Lumpur came down to the expected bunch sprint.

 

A strong breakaway threatened to steal the show but hard chase work by Orica-GreenEDGE brought everything back together with less than 3km to go. From here Guardini negotiated the technical finale on his own to come away with the win. As it had been the case in two of his previous three wins, his nearest rival was Caleb Ewan while Michael Kolar completed the podium.

 

“It’s fantastic because this is my fifth win this year,” said Guardini, who also won the opening stage of the Tour of Oman. “It’s incredible because I’m only at the start of the season and it’s great for me and the team. I know this finale really well and I made the sprint alone because I took the powerful train today and I made my sprint really well at 200 metres."

 

Guardini thanked his two remaining teammates - Agnoli and Maxat Ayazbayev - for the effort they put in for him to bag his fourth win of this edition.

 

"It was tough by this was a race that I wanted to win and I also wanted to help Agnoli get second place in the general classification and we achieved both," said Guardini.

 

"I knew what to expect in this final stage. It is a win that is special and I hope this will give a good year for my career." Guardini, as he did in the opening stage in Langkawi, repeated his win in the final stage in his debut year with Farnese-Vini in 2011.

 

Asked if he would return next year, Guardini who's contract with Astana expires at the end of the year, hoped he could return to the race, but wasn't sure of the team he would represent next.

 

In general it ended as a great day for Astana as Agnoli managed to win the first intermediate sprint and so picked up three important bonus seconds. That was enough to catapult him onto the overall podium as he moved into second, pushing Sebastian Henao (Sky) and Pierre-Luc Perichon (Bretagne) down one spot each.

 

"Thanks to Maxat and Guardini, they brought me to the intermediate sprint at 20km and I managed to win," Agnoli said.

 

Ayazbayev, Guardini and Agnoli were the only three riders from Astana remaining in the race after a virus moved through the peloton late this week, removing athletes and staff from many teams.

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