Giacomo Nizzolo could not break into the top 10 in the fast, wide-open finish of stage one in the inaugural Tour of Guangxi Thursday, finishing in 11th pace, but it didn't matter: he was back racing!
To say it has been a frustrating season for Nizzolo is an understatement as one setback followed another leaving last year's Italian champion grounded for almost all races this season.
As he lines up in his first competition since the Hammers Series in early June, all others are taking the start of their final race of a long season, and needless to say, a huge question mark hangs over his head on how he will perform in the sprints. As a result, the team is placing no pressure on Nizzolo, leaving him with free reins to find his race legs and sprinting juju back this week.
"It was a very strange feeling today after such a long time," explained Nizzolo. "It was a very fast sprint. To be honest, I did not know if I could take part in the sprint because I have no idea, completely, of my situation. But, of course, I knew if I had the chance I would take it to do the sprint, and that was the case.
"I was pretty far behind because I thought that was the best strategy because it was a fast sprint and large road. Maybe I was a bit too far behind, but I miss a bit of the feeling of the strategy of sprints. Okay, I was close to top 10, and I came from behind with the feeling [the result] could have been better. It's a good step to start."
While the first three stages of the new WorldTour event suit the sprinters the final three days are hilly, beginning with a summit finish for stage four. Trek-Segafredo has assembled a team around Bauke Mollema with the general classification the predominant goal this week. Mollema finished safely in 27th place and will look to get through the next two days in the same manner.
"The race went smoothly, it was really well organized, and it was good to see a lot of people watching around the course," said team director Kim Andersen about the first day of the new WorldTour event. "We did not put any pressure on Giacomo because we did not know where he would be after such a long time without racing. He sprinted with the bunch, and there are quite a lot of good sprinters here: we had no expectations, and he did better than expected. I am happy with the first day."