It's three out of three for Jakub "Kuba" Mareczko of Southeast at the Tour of Taihu Lake. The Italian outsprinted his compatriot Andrea Palini from Skydive Dubai on the banks of the Yang Tze river facing Shanghai, with Australia's Scott Sunderland sharing the honour on the podium for the second day in a row.
"This is the first time in my life as a cyclist to get three consecutive stage wins," Mareczko realised. "I'm happy. It shows my form is good at the moment. The team works for me every day. It's nice to pay them back with a third straight victory."
Stage 3 consisted of a 19km circuit to be covered seven times with a scenic route along China's famous delta. Three riders broke clear after three kilometers of racing: Ma Guangtong (Hengxiang), Sun Xiaolong (Giant-Champion System) and Roman Furst (Dukla Praha). They got a maximum advantage of 3:36 at km 30. Two chasers bridged the gap at km 67 and kept going instead of uniting their efforts with the three leaders but Bai Lijun (Giant-Champion System) and Leung Ka Tu (Hong Kong SI) didn't get more than 1:33 lead over the peloton successively led by Southeast, Torku and Kolss.
Hong Kong's Ronald Yeung of Team Gusto was the last man to try his luck during the last lap but it was all together with 11.5km to go. "It was very fast," Sunderland said. "The race had been crazier in the early part today so there wasn't much energy left in the bunch. The last lap was very fast. We tried to hang back a little bit more, then come up and time it perfectly. Being fourth wheel at the last corner made it more challenging to stay on my lead out."
"The team is going in the right direction leading to the last few days in the Tour," the Budget Forklifts sprinter added. "Third again today, two times on the podium, I'm very happy with that but obviously we try and chase some win. Today was a good sign of what we have."
Mareczko looked unbeatable once again. "I was determined to do well again today as it was the same finishing straight as yesterday," said the 21-year-old born in Jaroslaw, Poland. "I adopted the same tactic as yesterday too with launching my sprint at the 200 metres to go mark. I was again led by [Andrea] Dal Col and I started in fourth position."
The new Italian sprinting bomb has seen a different runner up accompanying him on stage every day for the colourful podium ceremony. After Andriy Kulik from Kolss and Sunderland, it was Palini this time. "Palini is one of the strongest sprinters here, bearing in mind that he won two stages at the Tour of Hainan beating [Sacha] Modolo," Mareczko said. "I'll keep an eye on him in the next few days."
"My legs were a bit tired since I arrived at the Tour of Taihu but I'm getting better and better," Palini revealed. "I suffered in the last two stages of the Tour of Hainan and it's been quite a tiring journey to come here [in the Jiangsu province] but today I felt good and I managed to sprint. Yesterday, I didn't find the space to move up so I finished seventh. Mareczko is beatable in a sprint but for the overall classification, it's going to be difficult for anyone to beat him now with the time bonus he got for three stage victories. We plan our race day by day and we remain hopeful to get some luck on our side anytime soon."
Mareczko is yet to set a record of consecutive stage wins at the Tour of Taihu Lake as Ukraine's Yuriy Metlushenko crossed the line first in the first four days two years ago. "I'm not targeting any record," the Italian concluded. "Only one stage at a time is enough for me to focus on. Since the start of this race I said the overall ranking was my goal and it still is. I'll fight for it until the very last day."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Jakub Mareczko (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling||3:09:30|
|2||Andrea Palini (Ita) Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team|
|3||Scott Sunderland (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts|
|4||Martin Laas (Est) Team Marseille 13 KTM|
|5||Ahmet Orken (Tur) Torku Sekerspor|
|6||Vojtech Hacecky (Cze) Team Dukla Praha|
|7||Jeroen Meijers (Ned) Rabobank Development Team|
|8||Martijn Verschoor (Ned) Team Novo Nordisk|
|9||Andrea Dal Col (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling|
|10||Anuar Manan (Mas) Terengganu Cycling Team|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Jakub Mareczko (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling||8:44:53|
|2||Scott Sunderland (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts||0:00:20|
|3||Ahmet Orken (Tur) Torku Sekerspor||0:00:22|
|4||Andrea Palini (Ita) Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team||0:00:24|
|5||Andriy Kulyk (Ukr) Kolss Cycling Team|
|6||Zhao Jingbiao (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling Team||0:00:25|
|7||Frantisek Sisr (Cze) Team Dukla Praha||0:00:26|
|8||Sam Witmitz (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts||0:00:27|
|9||Rasim Reis (Tur) Torku Sekerspor||0:00:29|
|10||Ying Chuan Gu (Chn) Giant - Champion System Pro Cycling|