Fresh from winning five stages and the GC at the Tour of Taihu Lake, Jakub Mareczko (Wilier Triestina) has returned to China to contest the Tour of Hainan, where he claimed his first pro victory two years ago. In the 2015 edition of the race, the 23-year-old Polish-born Italian sprinted to victory on stage 6 in Sanya on the south of the tropical island.
"I'll finish my season here, after which I'll be off for the rest of November before preparing for the next season with the same main goal as this year: the Giro d'Italia," he told Cyclingnews in Wanning.
Mareczko was a runner-up to Fernando Gaviria on two occasions this year, in stage 5 to Messina and stage 12 to Reggio Emilia. "For me it was a positive Giro although the team was hoping for a victory more than second places," Mareczko said. "I also prefer to be first than second but we can't only see this kind of results as failures. People tend to forget that one year ago, I was competing in the U23 category at the World Championships [third behind Norway's Kristoffer Halvorsen and Germany's Pascal Ackermann]. I'm still young but I'm improving my cycling surely. One year ago, I got dropped in the hard stage at the Tour of Taihu Lake, but this year with the help of my team-mates, I overcame the climb for finish in a front group of 30 riders."
Mareczko has extended his contract for a third season with Wilier Triestina. "This team has always believed in me and they believe in me again for next year," he added. "They have a nice project to develop a group of young riders. I've liked the idea. [Team manager] Angelo Citracca has insisted a lot for me to stay. I had a few opportunities to join a WorldTour team, but I've preferred to remain at Pro Continental level for one more season. I need to continue my improvement. It's difficult for a pure sprinter to get used to a full program of WorldTour races. There are certainly not many flat races."
The Tour of Hainan can be an opportunity for the Italian to step up. He's expected to shine in the sprints, starting with a short inaugural stage in Wanning-Xinglong on Saturday but he'll also test his legs in the queen stage from Sanya to Wuzhishan on day 7.
Two years ago, Sacha Modolo limited the losses in a similar finale to secure the overall victory throughout the time bonuses. "Like at the Tour of Taihu Lake, the bonifications are very important in Hainan," Mareczko noted.