On a wet day, Tomas Vaitkus, a former teammate of Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador, claimed second place while Turkish rider Ahmet Örken crossed the line in third place once again.
“Because of the rainy conditions right from the start today, we remained at the front of the peloton in order to not taking any risk and ensuring there was a sprint like the other days”, Mareczko explained. “We kind of misunderstood the time gap to the breakaway. It hasn’t been easy to bridge the five minutes.”
Martin Laas (Marseille 13-KTM), Vojtech Hacecky and Nicolas Pietrula (Dukla Praha), Wu Lok Chun (Hong Kong) and Martijn Verschoor (Novo Nordisk) combined their efforts to form the dangerous break.
Laas -the Estonian recruit of the French team upgraded to the Professional Continental ranks for next year, forged on after the last intermediate sprint with 37km to go. He was eventually rejoined by Merijn Korevaar (Rabobank) and Francisco Mancebo (Skydive Dubai). The latter showed his fighting spirit once again despite serious pain in his left shoulder after he crashed during the conclusive stage of the Tour of Hainan that cost him the fourth place overall.
Laas, Mancebo and Korevaar were caught with four kilometers to go, just after Ma Guangtong had a flat tyre. Four of his teammates from Hengxiang waited for him but he didn’t make it back to the peloton so the red jersey of best placed rider from Greater China went to his companion Zhao Jingbiao who had won stage 4 but got relegated and penalized for taking a hand sling with Wang Meiyin.
The Southeast and Torku teams lead the chase to set up the sprint.
“We know that Mareczko is faster on paper”, Örken commented. “But I was still hoping to win the stage to thank our coach Lionel Marie who has helped us a lot all of this year. I thought I was going to come second but Vaitkus passed me.”
Vaitkus has made a come back with the Latvian Rietumu-Delfin team. The winner of stage 9 in the 2006 Giro d’Italia retired in 2013 when his contract with Orica-GreenEdge came to an end.
“I didn’t ride my bike for one and half year when I stopped being a professional cyclist”, Vaitkus revealed. “I resumed training at the end of April after watching the classics on television. It almost brought me into tears and I wondered why I had stopped. I feel a lot of pleasure riding my bike and this is the best job I can do. I wanted to feel the stress of racing and even crashing again. It’s good to be back. Now it’s for pleasure, trying new tactics every day with young guys.”
Vaitkus is adamant that he had a chance of beating Mareczko who is very close to achieving his goal of winning the overall classification at the Tour of Taihu Lake.
The ninth and final stage of the race is over 90km in Wujiang on Sunday.