2012 Tour of Qinghai Lake | Stage 9: Zhangye

He s back! Clearly benefiting from the drop in altitude, Farnese Vini Selle Italia s Andrea Guardini burst from the peloton to win stage nine by a clear margin in the final bunch sprint. Better yet, the pocket-sized Italian still has several opportunities to repeat today s success in the days ahead.

Video: QQride.com
Image: Mike Murano Cycling Asia (also on Twitter)

Guardini s sprint was so perfectly executed that he had time to look back at the runners-up before coasting several bike lengths to the finish line with his arms splayed. It was the same confident style that saw him win six stages by way of two hat-tricks at this year s 2.HC-rated Tour de Langkawi.

This race was very short, with a very fast average [CiQ: 46.92kph], explained Guardini between deep breaths, immediately after the stage. We tried to work to catch the breakaway; after that I took the wheel of the train of RusVelo, because I see that yesterday they worked very good. Today is very perfect for me because in the last 600 metres I was fourth in the perfect position, then at 200 metres I took a metre (gap) and I won.

The day s break, consisting of Jiang Kun (Champion System Pro Cycling), Bradley White (United Healthcare Pro Cycling), Kanstantsin Klimiankou (Astana Continental), Toms Skujins (La Pomme Marseille) and Xue Cheng (Gansu Sports Lottery), managed to hold off the main field through both intermediate sprints, with Jiang Kun taking 1st then 2nd, respectively. Though Cameron Wurf is his highest-placed teammate on general individual classification (in 4th place, 12? down on race leader Hossein Alizadeh), 25 year old Jiang, who only took up cycling at the age of 17, is himself proving to be a capable GC rider.

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It was Guardini s turn to enjoy the view from the top of the podium, but SAVA s Luka Mezgec did himself no disservice in placing second to extend his lead in the points classification. Monday s 10th stage features the second-last categorised climb in the race, and could see RusVelo s Sergey Firsanov attempt to snatch the KOM jersey from Hossein Alizadeh (Tabriz Petrochemical Team), who also holds the blue jersey of Best Asian Rider and yellow jersey of race leader.

Check out the stage nine video highlights on QQride.com and more of Mike s images at the Official Tour of Qinghai Lake photo gallery.

CLASSIFICATION LEADERS AFTER STAGE NINE Leaders (Yellow) Jersey (??): Hossein Alizadeh (Tabriz Petrochemical Team) Points (Green) Jersey (??): Luka Mezgec (SAVA) King of the Mountains Jersey (???): Hossein Alizadeh (Tabriz Petrochemical Team)

Best Asian Rider (Blue) Jersey (??): Hossein Alizadeh (Tabriz Petrochemical Team)



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