Italy’s Jakub Mareczko has proven to be unbeaten in the sprints at the nine-day Tour of Taihu Lake, winning all seven of sprint finishes, including the last one in Wujiang on the east side of the Big Lake. Mareczko beat his compatriot Andrea Palini who also finished as the runner up in the overall classification.
At the age of 21, the up and coming sprinter from Southeast has secured the first stage race of his career.
“I never believed I could achieve something like this but I came here well prepared”, Mareczko said. “I trained well at home and I came to China to do well. I announced from day one that the overall classification was the goal but I decided to go step-by-step, stage after stage. It’s gone well, thanks to my team.”
After encountering diverse weather conditions in the same week, such as 30°C heat, crosswinds and pouring rain, the riders gathered on the start line of the conclusive stage feeling very cold. “It caught us by surprise”, Mareczko said. “This morning it was 10°C but it hasn’t particularly disturbed us, neither did the sudden wind towards the end of the race.”
Like in the previous days, Southeast and Torku combined forces to chase the breakaway of the stage. Ronald Yeung (Attaque Gusto), Gleb Gorbachev (Beijing Innova), Rick van Breda (Parkhotel Valkenburg), Jan Maas (Rabobank Development), Alfred Castillo and Marc Vilanova (Start) opened a one and half minute lead but it was game over with five kilometres to go. Yeung, a future Delko Marseille rider, was the unofficial most aggressive rider of the whole Tour of Taihu Lake as he’s been the most active in the escapes.
Skydive Dubai focused on preparing the final sprint for Palini as the Italian was dueling with his compatriot Marco Zanotti for the second place overall.
“Considering all the bad luck I’ve had in this race, I’m very satisfied”, said Palini who narrowly missed the orange jersey of race leader by just one second on the queen stage on day 5 and had a bad stomach bug later on.
“We’ve won the team classification. We’ve done all we could [with Rafaâ Chtioui winning stage 4]. Mareczko was beatable but he was the strongest in this race and he won all of the bunch sprints. He’s fast, that’s for sure. But he’s young and he’s got room for improvement on the climbs. These two races [Tour of Hainan and Tour of Taihu Lake] will help him to be able to take part in Grand Tours if he gets a chance to start any of them. He’s got the potential to become a champion.”
“For sure, having done eighteen stages almost with no break [only two days between Hainan and Taihu] is an important step with regards to my future”, Mareczko echoed. “I had never raced so much consecutively. It’s been a challenge. I’ve achieved it. Next year, I’ll compete against different riders on different routes. I’m gearing up for it. I wouldn’t say yet that I’m ready to challenge the top sprinters at the Giro d’Italia next year but I’m certainly on the right path for doing well.”
“To come and race in China has been a wonderful experience”, ‘Kuba’ added. “It has made me step up in my cycling career and helped me knowing more about myself. Now I’ll go on holiday for ten days and pretty soon I’ll prepare for next season. I’d like to come back to Asia for Le Tour de Langkawi that could well be my first goal for 2016.”