1/29/2013 12:00:00 AM - TEAM NEWS!
TOUR DE SAIN LUIS 21-27 January
7th Stage: Mattia Gavazzi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
Gavazzi sprints to victory on final stage
Mattia Gavazzi (Androni Giocattoli) sprinted to victory in the final stage at the Tour de San Luis, while Daniel Diaz (San Luis Somos Todos) finished safely in the peloton securing the overall victory.
Gavazzi, who made his return to the professional peloton in San Luis following a two and a half year ban for a cocaine positive, delivered an emotional win for his Androni Giocattoli squad in a hectic field sprint finale. The 29-year-old Italian out-kicked Slovakian champion Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Spanish champion Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) in the 154.7km closing stage. Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) made contact with Ventoso in the finale, when the Spaniard came across him, and the Manxman slipped his chain and pulled a foot from his pedal.
Gavazzi's sprint reduced his team manager Gianni Savio to tears in the sleepy town of Juana Koslay. He'd started the race ring-rusty from his long ban but from stage 1 he has grown in confidence and fitness
"In the first few days I was feeling well but I didn't have the sensations you need in the finale and I wasn't sure where to position myself for wins," said Gavazzi. "There was so much emotion at the finish though, and seeing Savio crying was very emotional.
"I knew I could come back to this level, though, and I hope this is the start of things to come. The level of the opposition is so high here. When I crossed the line I called my father and this is for him, my family and especially my nephew. Before I came to the race he asked me to come here and win."
It was an important day for Diaz, too, as the 33-year-old Argentinean claimed the biggest victory of his career in his team's home province of San Luis. The top of the general classification remained unchanged with Tejay van Garderen (BMC) second at 33 seconds, followed by stage 3 winner Alex Diniz (Funvic Brasilinvest) third at 39 seconds.
In addition to winning the general classification with Diaz, the home San Luis Somos Todos squad also claimed the mountains classification (won by Emmanuel Guevara), the sprint classification (won by Leandro Messineo) plus a stage win (Guevara, stage 5).
The 154km stage from downtown San Luis consisted of three laps of a circuit before a final run into Juana Koslay. A nine-rider break formed early in the stage, comprised of Juan A. Lucero (San Luis Somos Todos), Adrian Kurek (CCC Polsat Polkowice), Tyler Wren (Jamis-Hagens Berman), Alfredo Gutierrez (Argentina), Gustavo Hernandez (Clos de Pirque-Trek), Julian P. Gaday (Buenos Aires Provincia), Carlos Betancur (Ag2R La Mondiale), Enzo Josue Moyano (Caja Rural) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).
With Kwiatkowski just over three minutes down on GC, the escapees never stood much of a chance and when their lead peaked at 3:06 the sprinters' teams began to chase.
"It was hard out there. We had nine guys so we kept it steady," Wren told Cyclingnews. "It was the kind of day when you knew it was long shot for it to stay away, so I don't think we were completely committed. It's the last day of a long Tour so we were all tired but we gave it our best shot."
With 16km remaining the break was nullified. Lampre-Merida worked on the front for Maximiliano Richeze after Alessandro Petacchi retired at the feedzone, but the finale proved to be hectic as the sprinters' teams lost control and their lead-out trains splintered all over the road.
"It was a headwind finish and it wasn't easy. Every team ran out of guys," Cavendish told Cyclingnews at the finish. "We had two guys riding all day so we only had two in the finish."
With the sprinters left on the front with 500 meters to go and a lull in pace Gavazzi picked his moment perfectly, surfing through the wheels and holding on for his first win since April, 2010, when he claimed a stage victory at the Settimana Ciclistica Lombarda.
Photo: © Ricardo Romero Astorga / www.ciclismonatural.com