After celebrating a stage victory at the Presidential Tour of Turkey on Thursday, Jakub “Kuba” Mareczko of the Southeast team will celebrate his 22nd birthday on the penultimate day of the Turkish national Tour this Saturday in Marmaris.
Mareczko was born in Jaroslaw, Poland but moved to Italy as a boy when his mother remarried. He now has an Italian passport and lives near Brescia. His young age means he is eligible for the Under 23 World Championship road race in Doha, Qatar, on October 13.
“If the Italian Federation call me for the race, I’ll be more than happy to go”, Mareczko told Cyclingnews when asked about possible selection. “I just want to know it in advance because it requires good preparation, preferably an altitude training camp and it would be useless to go to Livigno for a few days before travelling to Qatar. I have already spoken with the Federation and we’ve agreed to talk about it again at the end of the Giro d’Italia.”
The talented young sprinter will tackle his first Grand Tour next week when the Giro d’Italia starts in Apeldoorn in the Netherlands, on May 6.
“I’d like to get some good result there too”, said the only rider to have won won one race every month this season -at Tour de San Luis in January, Le Tour de Langkawi in February, the Settimana Coppi&Bartali in March and most recently stage 5 of the Presidential Tour of Turkey.
“I’d be happy with a podium finish at the Giro d’Italia. I don’t want to ask for too much for my debut in a Grand Tour. All the WorldTour teams will be there, so the level of racing will be higher and I don’t know exactly how my condition is after I had a throat inflammation in Belgium.”
The Elite or Under 23 race?
Italian national coach Davide Cassani no doubt selected Mareczko for the Italian squad for the Tour de San Luis, with the idea of sending him to the World Championships in Qatar. As Sacha Modolo pointed out after winning stage four in Turkey, Italy doesn’t lack sprinters in the professional but they are one step below the likes of Marcel Kittel, Andre Greipel, Mark Cavendish and Alexander Kristoff. Choosing a team leader for the Elite men’s won’t be easy, with Modolo, Giacomo Nizzolo, Elia Viviani and Andrea Guardini and possible contenders.
The profusion of Italian sprinters in the Elite ranks will perhaps push Mareczko towards the Under 23 race. According to a new UCI rule, WorldTour riders born on or after January 1st, 1994, can now take part in the Under 23 World Championships, providing that they haven’t previously contested an Elite World Championship previously – as Colombia’s Miguel Ángel López in Richmond, USA, last year.
Australia’s Caleb Ewan of Orica-GreenEdge has already made clear that he wants to compete in the Elite race, while Colombia’s Fernando Gaviria of Etixx-QuickStep has still to decide but indicated to Cyclingnews that he would prefer to ride the far more prestigious Elite race.
Mareczko’s availability has nothing to do with the new rule as he rides for Professional Continental outfit Southeast. Ten years ago, Germany’s Gerald Ciolek won the Under 23 world title in Salzburg, Austria, while being a member of the Professional Continental team Wiesenhof Akud. Reigning Under 23 world champion Kevin Ledanois of France was also a Professional Continental rider with Bretagne-Séché last year.
“It’s not only a question of rules but also of the policy of the Italian National Federation,” Mareczko explained.
In 2011, Italy opted to not select Andrea Guardini for the Under 23 World Championships to protect the prestigue and work of the many non-professional teams in Italy.
If Under 23 road coach Marino Amadori considers professional riders this time, Team Sky rider Gianni Moscon would also be eligible. Italian Under 23 sprinters who haven’t yet turned professional include last year’s runner up Simone Consonni and Riccardo Minali whose father Nicola won Paris-Tours in 1995 and 1996 as well as three stages of the Tour de France including on the Champs-Elysées in 1997.
“If I don’t get selected for the World’s I’ll go back to China for the Tour of Hainan and the Tour of Taihu Lake,” said Mareczko who won a stage in Hainan and seven stages plus GC at the Tour of Taihu Lake last year.