Guardini wins the sprint of the giants, Efimkin keeps the lead

With one day to go, Russia’s Alexander Efimkin of Team Type 1 is in a comfortable position for winning the 47th Presidential Tour of Turkey. He went through stage 7 with no worries as the teams of the sprinters were highly motivated for keeping the bunch all together. Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Neri-Sottoli) has won the sprint of the giants.

By outsprinting no less than Kenny van Hummel, Tyler Farrar, Andre Greipel and Alessandro Petacchi, all well positioned for winning, he has given to the world of cycling the final indication that he’s probably the next best sprinter in the world.

After 34 kilometres of racing, four riders went clear: Yohan Bagot (Cofidis), Andrea Pasqualon (Colnago), Rob Goris (Willems) and Alexander Ryabkin (Caja Rural). They never had the illusion of racing for the win, as their advantage over the bunch couldn’t exceed two minutes. They logically got caught after the Sprint Prime of Aspendos located 34.5km away from the finishing line in Manavgat.

An attempt by Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin), Paolo Locatelli (Colnago) and Kirilov Tchanliev (Konya) in the final 25 kilometres was also hopeless, considering the motivation of a team like Lampre-ISD for delivering a bunch sprint finish to Alessandro Petacchi. At the entrance of Manavgat, Danish team Saxo Bank-SunGard tried to set it up for Lucas Sebastian Haedo but Petacchi was prompt to realise that it was the best train to follow at the end, as he has had Matteo Tosatto as a lead out man for many years in the past.

As soon as Kenny van Hummel opened the sprint on the left hand side of the road, Petacchi went accelerated on the right. Tyler Farrar was on the Italian’s wheel but he slipped gear in full speed and lost the opportunity to finish the job while Andre Greipel could only follow the move. On the other hand, Guardini was explosive enough to get out of the box and pass Van Hummel at the perfect time.

This was a superb sprint. It will have a special place in the history of the Presidential Tour of Turkey and it might well be remembered as one of the greatest of the 2011 cycling season worldwide.

The eighth and last stage of the 47th Presidential Tour of Turkey will go from the historical site of Side to the usual finishing town of Alanya. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see another bunch sprint and the overall victory of Efimkin.

Quotes From The Top 3 riders And The Race Leader

Andrea Guardini (1st, Vini Farnese-Neri-Sottoli): "It looks good to beat Van Hummel, Farrar, Greipel and Petacchi! It was a difficult race to win today because of so many trains and so many sprinters who knew it was the second last occasion to winning a stage. I fought for being well positioned in the last curve. Thanks to the help of Takashi Miyazawa who took over from Elia Favilli, I came out of this curve in tenth position and I found the hole to pass Van Hummel with less than 100 metres to go. Each of the last three sprints I’ve won has been nicer than the previous one: in Qatar, in Istanbul and here. I’m myself impressed by what I’m achieving. I didn’t think that I’d be beating those big names after four months as a professional rider! But I know that I yet have to improve a lot, so I’ve decided with my directeur sportif to not take part in the Giro d’Italia next week. It hasn’t been an easy decision to take but I’ll go on holiday after the Tour of Turkey and I hope to come back in good shape for winning again in the second part of the season. It was a bit of a bet that I’d ride the Giro if I won two stages here but that was kind of a motivational process. But realistically, this year’s Giro isn’t an easy thing and it would be too much, as I already feel tired after one week at the Tour of Turkey. I’m still young. I have a full career ahead of me. I know very well what I have to improve, and it’s climbing. All the success I’m already collecting increases my motivation for working on my weak point. In my mind, all the victories have an equal value even though there are bigger names behind me today. I’ve got eight now with five in Malaysia, one in Qatar and two here. They’ve all required a lot of efforts."

Kenny van Hummel (2nd, Skil-Shimano): "My team-mates brought me where I wanted to be for sprinting from behind. When Petacchi started sprinting on the right side, I had to do it from the left. I had more speed and I did everything right but Guardini beat me and I couldn’t do anything against him. He’s so strong and so fast. He’s a great sprinter in the making. He’s gonna win a lot at the Giro d’Italia and at the Tour de France."

Tyler Farrar (3rd, Garmin-Cervélo): "I slipped gear in the sprint and this is the second time I lose a race this year because of that. I had a good acceleration and I was well positioned but this mechanical ruined everything."

Alexander Efimkin (race leader, Team Type 1): "This is the first day I’m not tired at the end of a stage of the Tour of Turkey! I’ve been greatly escorted by my companions who stayed around me all day and kept the race under control. It was a perfect scenario for keeping the turquoise jersey because the teams of the sprinters were so motivated for a bunch gallop at the end. I don’t know about tomorrow but I’m already delighted to be the leader of this race today. It’s such a great feeling. Let’s enjoy the moment now and hopefully everything will go well."

Stage Summary

Istanbul – Istanbul
24 April 2011, 114.1 km

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