Guardini fourth in Flanders Sprint Classic
Astana Pro Team rider Andrea Guardini sprinted to a fourth place finish on Wednesday at the GP Scheldeprijs, narrowly missing the podium in a race known as The Belgian Sprint Championships.
Guardini, from Italy, thrwe his Specialized across the line after 204km to finish fourth by the width of a tire, just missing a podium appearance with race winner Marcel Kittel of Germany and former world champion Mark Cavendish of Great Britain.
"In the last 400m there was so many riders coming backwards because they sprinted too early. I follow Cavendish on the right side of the road and moved up through the pack for the sprint. It was a strong head wind and I knew if I tried to go too early I would lose positions," Guardini said.
Astana Pro Team rider Arman Kamyshev took the pressure off his teammates in the early part of the race, attacking with a small group to form a breakaway that established a gap of nearly three minutes before aggressive riding earlier than expected brought the race together with nearly 70km to go.
"The sprinters' teams started to compete early when we got into a crosswind. Garmin-Sharp and Argos-Shimano split up the peloton and sent everyone flying, and that ended the breakaway around 40km before anybody wanted. We were smart to have four riders at the front of the peloton when the splits happened, so we didn't have to chase, but it meant that Arman came back early and the race effectively restarted with more than an hour to go," said Astana Pro Team Director Sportif Jaan Kirsipuu.
Astana Pro Team rider Ruslan Tleubayev was also at the front of the peloton in the final one kilometer, but on the left side, separated from Guardini by a late split in the pack. The neo-pro rider finished 38th, with the same time as the leaders, but showed great strength in the final 500m.
"It was an accident of the course, there was a turn and our riders were separated. Tleubayev found himself alone behind Kittel, and at 500m he was at the front with nothing to do except go for victory," Kirsipuu said.