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In a bunch sprint, Guardini took his first European victory since the 2012 Giro d’Italia when he held off Ciolek and Breschel on stage 2 of the Tour of Denmark; Cort retained his overall lead

Photo: Sirotti














07.08.2014 @ 19:57 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Andrea Guardini (Astana) has finally broken his drought in the European races after he won today’s second stage of the Tour of Denmark in a bunch sprint. The Italian sprinter held off Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) and Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo) to claim his first win in the continent since 2012 while Magnus Cort (CULT) defended his overall lead.


Andrea Guardini has been through a very tough time since he beat Mark Cavendish in a sprint at the 2012 Giro d’Italia. Apart from a few wins in the Tour de Langkawi, the Italian has been unable to win in Europe and his many near-misses had caused a lot of frustration for the Astana sprinter.


Today he finally broke his drought when he won the second stage of the Tour of Denmark in a bunch sprint. As expected, it all came down to a battle between the fast men in Aarhus and here he beat Gerald Ciolek and local hero Matti Breschel into the minor positions.


The second stage of the race was the longest and brought the riders over 195km from Skive to Aarhus. In the first part of the stage, the riders tackled four small climbs but the second part was mostly flat. The riders ended the stage by doing a few laps on a slightly hilly finishing circuit that was unlikely to cause the sprinters too much difficulty.


The race was off to a very fast start with lots of attacks and the riders almost got to the first KOM sprint at the 21.5km mark before a break took off. KOM leader John Murphy (UnitedHealthCare), Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka) and Marco Coledan (Bardiani) made up the group while Nikola Aistrup (Riwal) set off in pursuit.


Murphy led Venter and Coledan over the line in the KOM sprint and at that point, they had a gap of 1.10. Aistrup crashed on the descent and as the peloton decided to wait for him, they increased their advantage slightly.


Wanty had missed the move and they worked hard to bring it back. With 39km to go, the trio was caught and new attacks were launched on the second climb of the day.


A big crash brought down pre-race favourite Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) who was able to continue in the race. While he was chasing back, Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff) led Martin Wesemann (MTN), Nicola Boem (Bardiani) and Søren Kragh (TreFor) over the top of the second climb.


On the descent, Frederique Robert (Wanty); Kenny De Ketele (Topsport) and Rolf Nyborg Broge (Denmark) escaped and now the peloton finally slowed down. They built an advantage of 3 minutes while the CULT team of race leader Magnus Cort started to control the situation.


While Nyborg Broge led De Ketele and Robert across the line in the next two KOM sprints, the gap was kept at around 3 minutes. Boaro took the final point in the first sprint while Murphy was first from the peloton in the second one.


At the 135km mark, the riders hit a crosswind section which prompted Lotto Belisol to try an attack. Even though they failed to split the peloton, their pace was enough to reduce the gap to less than 2 minutes.


De Ketele won the first intermediate sprint while Tinkoff-Saxo joined Lotto on the front. After 150km of racing, the front trio were caught and Tinkoff-Saxo continued to set a hard pace.


Sean De Bie (Lottp) and Martin Grøn (Riwal) got a small gap but now CULT went back to work. They brought the duo back before the peloton hit the finishing circuits.


Here the attacking continued and a dangerous 7-rider group managed to slip clear. Rasmus Mygind, Christopher Juul (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Jonas Aaen (Riwal) were all in the move but the sprint teams managed to bring things back together for a bunch sprint. Here Guardini emerged as the strongest as he managed to beat Ciolek and Breschel in the final dash to the line.


Race leader Magnus Cort could only manage 19th in the sprint but that was enough to defend his leader’s jersey. He takes a 3-second advantage over Jasper De Buyst (Topsport) into tomorrow’s queen stage which is a mostly flat affair but has a nasty sting in its tail. The stage ends with several laps on a hilly circuit in Vejle that includes a 600m climb with gradients of more than 20% and will offer the climbers and classics riders a chance to gain time before the time trial.



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