Although he claims he was too tired to celebrate while crossing the line, Mareczko made it look easy at the Stage 6 finish in Sanya, China, by a bike length over the bunch, including Martin Laas (Delko-Marseille Provence KTM), who finished runner-up for the fourth time this week.
Only Russian rider Boris Shpilevsky (2008) and Dutchman Theo Bos (2013) have won more stages during a single year at Hainan.
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The win also gives the 23-year-old Polish-born Italian 14 pro victories on the year to tie fellow UCI leaders and Quick-Step team-mates Fernando Gaviria of Colombia and Marcel Kittel of Germany. But the Professional Continental rider was quick to point out the difference in classification between himself and the WorldTour tandem
“Being on a smaller team than them and taking part in smaller races, our wins don’t have the same value, but I am happy with the number of victories,” said Mareczko, who has never won a WorldTour race in his 33 career pro victories, but has two second-place finishes behind Gaviria at the Giro d’Italia this year.
The big story of the day was the breakaway effort from the stage’s ‘most active rider’ Alexis Cartier of H&R Block Pro Cycling. The 26-year-old Canadian spent 216 of the 219.6 kilometres from Changjiang in the break. First with Joris Blokker (Monkey Town) and Mykhaylo Kononenko (Kolss), then with Blokker for the majority of the stage before going solo until the final 5km.
In total, Cartier, who also totalled more than 100km in three different breaks a day earlier, has accumulated more than 300km at the front of the race in the past 48 hours despite having dead legs at the start on Thursday morning. Cartier told Eurosport:
I knew after the race yesterday everybody would be tired. You could feel at the start from all the faces nobody wanted to race. [Last] night and this morning I really felt bad, even at the start of the breakaway I felt pretty stiff, but the more I went I felt good and in the end I had pretty good legs actually.
However, according to Laas the day was rather subdued compared to the previous day.
“It was a long and boring day. From the start the breakaway was gone,” Laas told Eurosport. “Everybody was in the mindset to take it a bit easier today after the chaos of Stage 5 because tomorrow is the queen stage. Nobody wanted to follow the break.
Although the 24-year-old Estonian sits second overall at 24 seconds off race leader Mareczko, he claims he has no aspiration of contending for the yellow jersey on Friday.
“I did that stage in 2015 and that climb is quite hard,” explained Laas referring to Stage 7. “If you are [Peter] Sagan it’s doable, but if you are a sprinter like me it’s hard. Maybe 2- or 3km I can pass, but tomorrow is 7km and the final part is quite steep.”
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