The mood at the Italian team’s dinner table will be a tense one after Jakub Mareczko beat his teammate Elia Viviani in a bizarre set of circumstances. It looked as if the duel for victory would be between Viviani and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) but Mareczko appeared from behind the world champion to beat his teammate by a hair’s breadth.
It’s not often that you see two teammates going up against each other in that way and reporters were keen to find out what had gone wrong but left non-the-wiser by the end of the winner’s press conference.
“In the finish I was working for Elia Viviani and that is why I was near the front,” was Mareczko’s brief explanation of the situation.
It would take a photo finish to decide the winner but Viviani had already seemly decided that he had come off second best. The Team Sky rider, who is competing for Italy in San Luis, decided to ride back to the team hotel, which is close to the finish, rather than turn up for the podium ceremony. There will no doubt be a lengthy discussion as to what exactly happened but when speaking to the press after the stage, the two had yet to talk to each other.
“I haven’t seen him yet maybe I will I see him at the hotel,” said Mareczko.
Nevertheless, it was an impressive turn of speed by the 21-year-old Italian to beat two established sprinters in such a way. Mareczko normally rides for the Southeast team throughout the season, after turning professional with them in 2015. He made a good impression early on in South America with victories at the Vuelta al Táchira and the Vuelta a Venezuela. His year ended on a high-note with seven stage wins at the Tour of Taihu Lake. However, this victory against such strong competition is confirmation of his potential.
“I am really happy with this victory it is really important and I will take it going into the rest of the season,” said Mareczko. “I want to dedicate this victory to the people that follow me and the team.”
Mareczko will now head to the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana followed by the Tour de Langkawi at the end of February, where he is set to be a serious threat in the bunch sprints.
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