After two days of suffering in the wind and the hills and almost losing the lead in the 2015 Tour of Taihu Lake, Jakub Mareczko from Southeast regained some comfort after edging out Budget Forklifts’ Scott Sunderland - who was almost a non-starter after crashing the day before - and Torku’s Ahmet Örken in Yixing Yangxian Scenic Area. With two thirds of the race behind him and three flat stages to go, the Italian has definitely become the hot favourite for the overall classification.
“I started today’s stage with only a one-second lead over Andrea Palini and my advantage is now fourteen seconds,” Mareczko said. “The team has been fantastic. They still believed in me. We had to increase the lead in order to pursue our initial goal of winning the overall classification of the Tour of Taihu Lake.”
Rafaâ Chtioui’s crash on stage 5 was widely regarded as the turning point of the race. Had the Tunisian winner of stage 4 not slipped in the finale, he would have been instrumental in putting Palini on the top spot of the overall classification. “He would have been a great help at the front for sure but thanks to my team-mates, we limited the loss,” Mareczko said.
Southeast’s sport director Luca Amoriello estimated at fifteen seconds the time the breakaway would gave gained with Chtioui being part of it till the end. “Mareczko might still have won the overall but only on the last day with the time bonus of the final sprint,” the Tuscan coach said.
Mareczko started his hunt for time bonus with winning the first intermediate sprint with his lead out man Andrea Dal Col crossing the line in second position and stage 5 winner Marco Zanotti in third. A breakaway group took shape after that, including Ronald Yeung (Attaque Gusto), Mitchell Cornelisse (Rabobank development), Vojtech Hacecky (Dukla Praha) and Ukrainian national champion Mykhaylo Kononenko (Kolss). They got a maximum lead of 2.30 and Hong Kong pocket rocket Yeung forged on until he got reeled in with nine-km to go. His future team-mate Julien El Farès from Marseille 13-KTM tried to escape two-km before the finish but the peloton brought him back.
Turkish continental team Torku has largely contributed to the chase of the peloton. Therefore, Örken was delighted with his team’s performance as he claimed the third place for the third time at this Tour of Taihu. “I’m very happy with the way we rode,” the sprinter from Konya said. “Lionel Marie, who was our coach this year [the Frenchman will move on to a sport director role at IAM Cycling in 2016], has made the whole team improve tremendously with his advice of all kinds, like nutrition, training, tactics, etc.”
Second again, Sunderland expressed the same feeling of satisfaction considering the circumstances. “I’m very happy today,” the Western Australian declared. “I had a big crash yesterday. I really hurt my right shoulder. I was even close to not starting this morning so to get through and still contest the sprint and come away very closely to the win, I’m very happy. I wasn’t able to go out of the seat because of my shoulder. The team remained supportive even though I wasn’t feeling good so it’s a great result.”
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Jakub Marezcko (Ita) Southeast||2:55:12|
|2||Scott Sunderland (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts|
|3||Ahmet Orken (Tur) Torku Sekerspor|
|4||Marco Zanotti (Ita) Parkhotel Valkenburg CT|
|5||Sam Witmitz (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts|
|6||Andriy Kulyk (Ukr) Kolss BDC Team|
|7||Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Rietumu-Delfin|
|8||Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Kolss BDC Team|
|9||Patrick Clausen (Den) Team Trefor-Blue Water|
|10||Andrea Palini (Ita) Skydive Dubai|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Jakub Marezcko (Ita) Southeast||16:59:00|
|2||Andrea Palini (Ita) Skydive Dubai||0:00:14|
|3||Marco Zanotti (Ita) Parkhotel Valkenburg CT||0:00:15|
|4||Evaldas Siskevicius (Ltu) Team Marseille 13 KTM||0:00:18|
|5||Ma Guangtong (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling Team||0:00:19|
|6||Thomas Rabou (Ned) Attaque Team Gusto||0:00:26|
|7||Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Kolss BDC Team||0:00:29|
|8||Ahmet Orken (Tur) Torku Sekerspor||0:00:31|
|9||Jingbiao Zhao (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling Team|
|10||Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Skydive Dubai||0:00:34|