After five successive stage wins, Wilier Triestina sprinter Jakub Mareczko was more than happy to surrender the yellow leader’s jersey to team-mate and fellow Italian Jacopo Mosca (ITA) on Stage 7 of the 2017 Tour of Hainan (UCI 2.HC) in Wuzhishan.
Mosca makes it another Wilier Triestina win on Stage 7
“I am very happy because Mosca worked very much this race for me,” Mareczko told Eurosport following his team-mate’s first pro career victory.
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He must take one victory here for all that he does and I am very happy and proud of him.
The 23-year-old started the day with a 28-second lead over Estonian sprinter Martin Laas (Delko-Marseille Provence KTM), but now falls to 13 minutes 38 seconds back after finishing 82nd on the day. Despite losing the overall lead, the Polish-born Mareczko maintains his grasp over the green points jersey with a 12-point advantage over Laas.
For Mosca, who was the first of three remaining riders left over from a race-long breakaway, the win was a culmination of a week’s hard work of both himself and the entire Wilier team.
“It’s unbelievable, we have another time the jersey of the leader,” said the 24-year-old in the post-stage interview with Eurosport. “Oh wow, it’s unbelievable, and [I] say thank you to all my team-mates and staff, because this week we have big, big team.”
Mosca now holds a slim three-second lead over Colombian Benjamin Prades (Team UKYO), who finished second, and eight over Ukrainian Mykhaylo Kononenko (Kolss) and Dutchman Marc de Maar (Hengxiang Cycling Team), the latter of which finished third with the two remnants of the 19-rider break that originally contained Stage 1 winner Jon Aberasturi (Team UKYO) and Laas, and kicked off the 166.5-kilometre day from Sanya.
The 33-year-old former Rabobank rider attacked from the pack after the last KOM to bridge to the Mosca and Prades to finish in third just ahead of a surging select bunch led by New Zealand road race champion Joe Cooper (IsoWhey Sports-SwissWellness).
“When they start race [there was] a little attack and we go in the big breakaway,” explained Mosca. “We try to go, we stay easy because we have the jersey in the back. In the last climb we have possibility to do good race and I do full gas in the climb. Three guys in the sprint I do full gas and it’s good.”
Cooper’s Australian team-mate Sam Crome, who looks worse for ware after a pair of crashes starting with one in the opening stage, was also in the break collecting valuable mountain classification points to lift the polka-dot jersey off fellow break-mate Vitaliy Buts (Kolss), the Ukrainian road race champ.
A top 5 stage result, KOM jersey and a top 20 from Aussie Robbie Hucker, who moves up from 39th to 11th at 21 seconds back on general classification is enough to make team co-founder and sports director Andrew Christie-Johnston a happy man considering he is down to just four riders after losing all three of his sprinters due to two crashes and a disqualification.
“To lose three guys early on and drop to four, we knew we would never have massive representation, but we knew if an early break went — we actually said if there was a 20-man break we would have to run with one — and it was 19 riders and ‘Crommy’ was in there,” said Christie-Johnston.
“We knew that the guys we do have are all reasonable climbers and it was a good opportunity to pick up that KOM and ‘Crommy’ did a fantastic job. Both ‘Coops’ and Robbie did a great job as well finishing in the reduced main field.
“We will try to defend the KOM jersey,” he continued. “To be honest it’s not an outright lead, it’s actually an equal lead at 22 points with Buts, so we will defend that. We are a bit too far away for the yellow jersey, but if there’s an opportunity we’ll take it.”
Saturday features another climbing stage with four categorised climbs, including a Cat. 1 inside the first 12km of the 197.4km stage from Wuzhishan to Lingshui before the ninth and final stage from Lingshui to the opening stage start-finish in Wanning Xinglong on Sunday.
While Mosca says the team will try to defend the yellow jersey with two days remaining, he admits opportunities still exist for Mareczko to add to his 2017 palmarés which currently ties Quick-Step riders Fernando Gaviria (COL) and Marcel Kittel (GER) at 14.
“I don't know, it’s seven days that we pull and we stay in the wind, but we try of course to take the jersey,” said Mosca. “And why not to win another stage with ‘Kuba’? We have also another two stages for a good race [result].”
For full stage and race results click here.
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