Tour of Hainan: Jakub Mareczko slips into yellow after Stage Two sprint win
Italian Jakub Mareczko opened his 2017 Tour of Hainan account with his 10th victory of the season for Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia.
Polish-born Italian Mareczko saw off competition from Estonian Martin Laas (Delko-Marseille Provence KTM), Suisse Dylan Page (Switzerland) and Canadian Marc-Antoine Nadon (H&R Block Pro Cycling) in Haikou.
At 230.2 kilometres, Stage Two is the longest of the tour’s nine stages and a far cry from the 88.3km opener won by Spaniard Jon Aberasturi (Team UKYO) on Saturday, where Mareczko finished second.
“Today the stage was very long, and my mates worked in the final kilometres,” Mareczko told Eurosport after over 5 hours of racing. “They did a great job to put me in the front and arrive with the bunch sprint.”
Last year German sprinter Max Walscheid (Team Sunweb) claimed five sprint victories, a feat Mareczko is not yet willing to commit to matching.
“I don’t know, I see day by day what happens in the race, but I’m good now and all my mates are good,” said the 23-year-old, who won four stages and his second overall title at the Tour of Taihu Lake earlier this month.
“There is another stage where my [team mates] can do well and many sprints. So it’s a long race and we see day by day.”
After several failed attacks, a five-man break stuck at the 42km mark. However, Vitaliy Buts (Kolss), Benjamin Hill (Attaque Gusto), Ivar Slik (Monkey Town), Guangdong Ma (Hengxiang) and Lukas Meiler (Vorarlberg) failed to hold off the peloton after establishing a gap of more than six minutes (6:20) with 84km to go.
Shortly afterwards, Rick Van Breda (Monkey Town), Jordan Cheyne (Jelly Belly) and Fabian Lienhard (Vorarlberg) countered a nine-man break with a three-man attack 10km after the initial break was caught.
Muscle cramps got the best of van Breda, leaving Cheyne and Lienhard to fend off the field under the hot, humid conditions of the tropical island paradise located in the South China Sea.
“I was looking for the early break and when that didn’t happen we saw the gap coming down, it’s such a long, hot day, headwind,” Cheyne told Eurosport. “It was almost two races, then it started to go again with 90k to go.
“I made it up to those two guys and we rode pretty hard,” the 26-year-old Canadian continued. "I never thought we were going to make it until about 20k to go … unfortunately my mate got a flat, but it was pretty close and a good ride.”
Mareczko moves into the overall lead with a seven-second advantage over Aberasturi and nine over Laas. He also assumes the points lead off Aberasturi, while Buts lifts the mountains jersey off the Spaniard as well.
Monday’s 155.6km stage from Haikou to Chengmai features three intermediate sprints, one categorised climb (Cat. 4) and a gradual ascent to the finish.