Just meters past the finish line in Ourdenaarde, Jacopo Guarnieri pounded his handlebars three times. The Italian from Astana had just lost stage one of the Three Days of De Panne by centimeters to former teammate and big star Peter Sagan.
Three pounds of the bar was his way of saying, lost damn stage, lost damn first leaders jersey, lost damn flowers, champagne, two sexy podium girls, salary bonus, etc etc. Lucky he didn’t shatter those carbon bars.
This looked to be Guarnieri’s day — although he was outnumbered by Sagan and two Liquigas teammates, he opened the sprint fast and furious but at the last possible, painful second Sagan slipped around on the right.
This is why the Slovakian is perhaps the best young rider in the pro ranks, having already won three races this season and coming in second in Gent Wevelgem and 4th in Milan San Remo. Meanwhile Jacopo Guarnieri has and no wins and an empty Facebook page.
The opening day of De Panne was run under postcard perfect conditions. Where is the wind and rain and crappy weather that epitomizes bike racing in Belgium? This looked like a flat stage in Le Tour in late July.
Guarnieri tried everything he possibly could to win the stage — in the breakaway and the sprint. When Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Cannondale) jumped ahead with Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Ben Hermans (RadioShack-Nissan) and GreenEdge’s Sebastian Langeveld, Guarnieri joined the show with Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM). They grabbed 30 seconds but at 10K were shot down.
He wasn’t giving up and once the peloton caught his teammate Dmitriy Muravyev with 4km left, he still thought he had the legs to take his first win of the season. But Peter Sagan is the star and in this case star power is worth a few extra centimeters and a lean of the bike.
So the headline reads: Sagan Victorious, Guarnieri hits bars.