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Best sprints of 2012: Cav seeing new generation nipping at heels

4. Guardini: Momma’s boy who rides fast

Three hours after his victory in stage 18 at the Giro d’Italia, Andrea Guardini was still celebrating. The baby-faced Guardini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) came off the wheel early and surprised the bunch with a breakthrough win in his Giro debut.

For any Italian sprinter, winning your first stage in your national tour is a huge milestone. For Guardini, the win over stewing world champ Mark Cavendish catapulted the 23-year-old into the headlines.

La Gazzetta dello Sport quickly hailed him as the “next Cipollini.” Italy is hungry for another winning sprinter and many believe they’ve found one in Guardini. Compact, fast and ambitious, Guardini might have the winning combo to go places.

For an Italian, he rarely raced in Italy, at least not this year. The Giro stage win was the only one last year in Europe; the rest came in Asia. He won six of 10 stages at the Tour of Langkawi in Malaysia and three stages at the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China.

For 2013, Guardini makes the move to the WorldTour with a two-year deal with Astana.

He’ll have plenty more chances to knock heads with the likes of Cavendish again to try to prove that his Giro win was no fluke.

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