The queen stage of the 2015 Tour of Taihu Lake saw Italy’s Marco Zanotti from Dutch continental team Parkhotel Valkenburg outsprint his compatriot Andrea Palini of Skydive Dubai from a seven-man breakaway group in a nail-biting finale. Southeast’s Jakub Mareczko defended his orange leader’s jersey with great courage on the lumpy, curvy and wet roads neighboring the Maoshan mountain and the Sino-Japanese war memorial of the Jiangsu province.
“It was a very hard stage with a lot of up and down and corners as well as slippery roads,” Zanotti commented. “In the finale, we went with a small group and I managed to win at the photo-finish with Palini. I wasn’t sure I could beat him because he’s also a very strong and fast rider but at the end I had a little bit extra energy that he didn’t have left. The racing conditions were difficult but we’re used to that in races in Belgium and Holland, so it wasn’t really a problem.”
Oleksandr Polivoda from the Ukrainian team Kolss was the last survivor of the early breakaway after being heroic in getting back on his bike after crashing on a slippery road with 42km to go. He was quick to make it across to his teammate Andriy Vasylyuk and Lithuania’s Edvaldas Siskevicius of Marseille 13-KTM, who was the other admirable fighter of the day. Polivoda was reined in with 23km to go. Three kilometers later, Francisco Mancebo (Skydive Dubai) upped the tempo in the second last climb and created a front group of six riders, one of them being his teammate Rafaâ Chtioui. But the winner of stage 4 crashed 15km before the end.
Siskevicius and Vitaly Buts (Kolss) bridged the gap to Mancebo and Palini, Julien El Farès (Marseille 13-KTM), Thomas Rabou (Attaque Gusto) and Zanotti to make it an escape of seven riders with 13km to go. Their advantage was 25 seconds at the 10km to go mark, and 20 seconds at 5km, over a reduced bunch comprising the orange jersey Mareczko and often led by blue jersey wearer Zhao Jingbiao (Hengxiang), who had overcome his disappointment of being stripped of the win on stage 4 due to a flying relay with Wang Meiyin.
With a deficit of only 17 seconds on the finishing line, Mareczko retained the overall lead by one second over Palini. “I didn’t think the stage would be this hard,” the Polish-born sprinter said. “It was complicated with three climbs on the final circuit. It was very selective but the team helped me tremendously. A few adversaries rode away. We didn’t manage to catch them but we crossed the line just a few seconds after them so I keep the jersey. I’m happy with that and quite relieved. The hardest stage of the whole race was today’s but the next ones can’t be underestimated. The fight for the overall victory will keep going on in the next few days. We’ll defend ourselves until Sunday.
“Today Palini and Zanotti have demonstrated they are going strongly,” Mareczko continued. “Congratulations to them for having made the front group. It means they’ll be a threat for me in the coming stages.”
“Being from a continental team and winning a UCI category 1 race, we’re very happy with this result,” Zanotti concluded. “I’ve trained a lot for the Tour of Taihu and there might be more satisfactions to come with four stages to go.”
Before the last three flat stages, stage 6 in Yixing Yangxian Scenic Area, which is a 16km long circuit to be covered eight times, is also considered a hilly one by the race organisers. Past half way into the nine-day long event, Mareczko has put the main difficulty behind him. However, he’ll need his top end speed again to fend off Palini.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Marco Zanotti (Ita) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team||2:55:46|
|2||Andrea Palini (Ita) Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team|
|3||Thomas Rabou (Ned) Attaque Team Gusto|
|4||Evaldas Siskevicius (Ltu) Team Marseille 13 KTM|
|5||Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Kolss Cycling Team|
|6||Julien El Fares (Fra) Team Marseille 13 KTM|
|7||Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa) Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team||0:00:02|
|8||Jeroen Meijers (Ned) Rabobank Development Team||0:00:17|
|9||Mykhaylo Kononenko (Ukr) Kolss Cycling Team|
|10||Yoan Verardo (Fra) Team Marseille 13 KTM|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Jakub Mareczko (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling||14:03:56|
|2||Andrea Palini (Ita) Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team||0:00:01|
|3||Marco Zanotti (Ita) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team||0:00:03|
|4||Evaldas Siskevicius (Ltu) Team Marseille 13 KTM||0:00:05|
|5||Ma Guangtong (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling Team||0:00:06|
|6||Thomas Rabou (Ned) Attaque Team Gusto||0:00:13|
|7||Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Kolss Cycling Team||0:00:16|
|8||Zhao Jingbiao (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling Team||0:00:18|
|9||Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa) Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team||0:00:21|
|10||Ahmet Orken (Tur) Torku Sekerspor||0:00:22|