Italian finds confidence and a better programme with Bardiani-CSF

LINGSHUI COUNTRY GARDEN, China (VN) — Andrea Guardini (Bardiani-CSF) is not the best sprinter, but he found his place winning everything at the HC level.

This week in the Tour of Hainan, on China’s resort island in the southeast, he won the fourth stage to Wanning. With the victory, his career tally moved to 42.

He has raced for WorldTour teams Astana and UAE Team Emirates, and went to the grand tours, but found his place with Bardiani-CSF and his program of smaller tours around the world.

“I know that WorldTour teams have a lot of races and good [racing] programs, but if you don’t race this good program then it’s better to stay in a professional [continental] team and do a really good program,” Guardini told VeloNews.

“Last year I was in UAE and I raced all WorldTour races. For a pure sprinter like me, it’s difficult to be in shape in these races and it’s better to have a different calendar to be in a good shape for the important races.”

He spoke at the Country Garden stop, below massive buildings and resorts, in the Tour of Hainan. The ocean breeze blew in lightly and cooled the 90° day. He and the rest of the team in green prepared for stage six.

“I have a very good team, an Italian team, for sure. My confidence with the teammates is really special and here they want to be strong for me in the final. I have a really good team for me.”

Guardini, 29 years old, stepped up from the second division to race in WorldTour team Astana in 2013. He remained there for four years and raced one year, last year, with UAE Team Emirates.

He won around the world, from China to Denmark, from Oman to The Netherlands. He holds the record of wins in Malaysia’s Tour de Langkawi with 24 stages. However, only two of his 42 wins come from the top level in WorldTour races: one in the 2014 Eneco Tour and one in the 2012 Giro d’Italia.

“2012 was a fantastic year. I won the 18th stage in Vedelago, incredible. It was in Veneto, my region. It was special for me,” Guardini said.

“Winning in the Giro for an Italian is something special. Afterwards, you have a lot of fans in Italy and it changes something in a career for an Italian guy.

“Second that day? Mark Cavendish. It was as special, also for that, he was world champion in that year, he wasn’t wearing the rainbow jersey because he had the points jersey, the red jersey.”

Guardini speaks nearly perfect English. After he began to win frequently in the Tour of Langkawi, he felt he could not be the usual Italian and speak little English. He needed to learn.

He takes the same open mind to Hainan. He raced in China before, but never in one of the 13th editions of the Tour of Hainan. Already he won one stage, and aims for another before the final stage nine.

“I win here because I love the heat. I love to race in 35 or 40°C that’s the reason. I love Asia and the Asian races,” Guardini added.

“For sure [the UCI points are important], we also have an Asian [Chinese] sponsor CST, so for us it’s important.

“It’s a good way to finish the season and start the next season. We are at the end of October and I have good shape. I’ll go into the holidays with good legs, and afterwards I can start better next year.”

Bardiani usually races its home grand tour, the Giro d’Italia, via a wildcard invitation and Guardini plans to win again.

“I want to win another time in the Giro next year. This year wasn’t a good year for me in the Giro. I want to be in good shape in May to have a good Giro for me and for Bardiani.”