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VEDELAGO, Italy (AFP) — Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) won the 18th stage of the Giro d’Italia Thursday. Guardini overpowered world champion Mark Cavendish (Sky) and Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela), second and third respectively.
“I am so happy to win this stage! I got through the climbs in pretty good shape and wanted to have a shot today at the sprint,” said Guardini. “It was the last chance and to win a stage in my first Giro and, well, I am very happy.”
The peloton drew the last of the escapees in with under 4km to go. Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Sky and Saxo Bank each made bids for the front of the leadout in the final 3km. With Sky boxed in on the left side of the road behind two Omega Pharma riders, four Saxo Bank riders took to the head of the peloton with 2km remaining.
Points leader Cavendish sat seven wheels back, but with 800 meters to go, Sky was at the front, with Cavendish in the jump seat behind Geraint Thomas. Guardini sat fourth, behind Ferrari, and jumped a split-second before Cavendish. The Italian drew even with and then pushed ahead of Cavendish inside the final 100 meters to register the win in the final bunch sprint opportunity of this Giro.
Guardini won six stages on the Tour of Langkawi in Malaysia at the start of the season and clinched his seventh success of the year.
Friday’s stamina-sapping 19th stage in the mountains is a 198km run from Treviso to the Alpe di Pampeago.
Editor’s Note: Keep your browser pointed to VeloNews.com for more from stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia.