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Having gone deep to make it over the final climb, Mareczko proved to be in a class of his own in the sprint at the end of the final stage of the Tour of Turkey, holding off Modolo and Chamorro; Goncalves won the race overall

Photo: Tour of Turkey/Brian Hodes














01.05.2016 @ 18:00 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Jakub Mareczko (Southeast) proved that he is fully ready to challenge the biggest names at the Giro d’Italia when he proved to be in a class of his own in the reduced bunch sprint on the final stage of the Tour of Turkey. Having survived the late climb, he came from far back to easily pass Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) in the final dash to the line, with Francisco Chamorro (Funvic) crossing the line in third. Jose Goncalves (Caja Rural) finished safely and secured overall victory while his teammate David Arroyo (Caja Rural) and Nikita Stalnov (Astana City) rounded out the podium.


All year, Jakub Mareczko has been looking forward to his Giro d’Italia debut and the Italian cycling fans have all been eager to see what their future star sprinter can do against the biggest names. However, he was a bit apprehensive when he arrived at the Tour of Turkey for his final preparation race for his grand tour debut as he had fallen ill earlier in April.


However, after 8 days of racing, Mareczko can head to the Netherlands for the start with huge confidence as he can leave Turkey with two stage wins in his pocket. After he had proved his class in a real bunch sprint on stage 5, he showed much greater versatility and endurance by adding the hilly final stage to his tally today. The Italian did not make it over a late climb, he proved that he is one of the fastest in the world as he was in a class of his own when the many sprinters roared towards the line in Selcuk.


The 200.7km stage was slowed down significantly by a strong headwind which made it a very long day in the saddle and for a long time, the average speed was no more than 33km/h. A four-rider break dominated the stage that had been characterized by a big mountain early on the course which failed to make much of a difference, and a long, flat run to a category 3 climb that summited just 10.9km from the finish.


Lampre-Merida had controlled all day for Sacha Modolo but as no one wanted to lend them a hand. Hence, they stopped their work with 50km to go, and as no one took over the baton, Domingos Goncalves (Caja Rural) just patrolled the front, meaning that Alessandro Malaguti (Unieuro), Muhammet Atalay (Torku) and Jan Hirt (CCC) could build an advantage of 5.30 as they entered the final 30km.


A little earlier, their former companion Nicolas Baldo (Roth) had been brought back and maybe it was the fact he Baldo was no longer in the break that made difference. In any case, Roth started to chase with a single rider and this inspired several teams to come to the fore Kazushige Kuboki was the first to join forces with Roth for Nippo-Vini Fantini and it didn’t take long for Frederik Frison (Lotto Soudal) to start to chase too, just like Astana City and Southeast. Goncalves was also still working and with so many teams taking their share, Lampre-Merida again put Petilli and later Koshevoy on the front.


Their work had a big effect and the gap was already down to 3.25 as they entered the final 20km. Most of the chasers blew up though, and Koshevoy, Frison and Goncalves were the only riders left to do with 17km to go. Still they were far stronger than the three leaders. With 16km to go, there was only 1.20 left of the advantage that had once been almost six minutes.


Przemyslaw Niemiec and Kristijan Durasek came to the fore to take turns for Lampre-Merida alongside Koshevoy and Frison and had brought the gap down to 40 seconds when a Parkhotel took a big turn. He continued to trade pulls with the Lampre-Merida riders as they approached the final climb.


With the gap down to 30 seconds, Malaguti attacked and only Hirt could keep up with him. Atalay was brought back with 12.5km to go but it was clear that it was all in vain for the two leaders too as the gap was down to just 10 seconds.


Niemiec led the peloton onto the climb before a Torku rider launched the first attack. However, he failed to get clear and the acceleration only served to bring the escapees back with 12km to go.


Dominik Hrinkow (Hrinkow) launched an immediate attack but it was the move from Quentin Pacher (Delko) and Karel Hnik (Verva) that worked. Pacher led Hnik over the top and Mauro Finetto (Unieuro) made a big acceleration to make the junction just as they crossed the line.


Lotto Soudal tried to split the peloton in the crosswinds in the final part of the climb and it was Adam Hansen who took a huge turn as they crested the summit. Only around 20 riders were left and Hansen, Gert Dockx and Stig Broeckx tried to maintain the splits after the climb, bringing the front trio back in the process.


Lotto Soudal quickly realized that their effort was in vain as they turned back into a headwind and so another 20-rider group rejoined them. They easily responded when a Hrinkow rider attacked but with the headwind, the pace was very slow.


The lull was the perfect chance to attack and it was Nazim Bakirci (Torku) and Pacher who took the chance. Giovanni Carboni (Unieuro) and Daniele Colli (Nippo) joined them and as they hit the descent, they opened a gap of 5-10 seconds.


Hansen, Broeckx and Dockx chased hard for Lotto Soudal and as the escapees started to watch each other at the bottom of the descent, they brought Colli, Bakirci and Pacher back. Carboni continued for a while but with 3km to go, it was all back together.


The three Lotto riders maintained the pace until a Roth rider attacked with less than 2km to go. Southeast quickly responded as two riders slotted onto his wheel and then hit the front, leading the peloton under flamme rouge.


Their sprinters Mareczko and Manuel Belletti were far back though and instead it was Colli, Greg Henderson, Kris Boeckmans (Lotto Soudal) who were next, with Belletti sitting in with Roberto Ferrari and Modolo on his wheel. The Italian team still did the lead-out though before Henderson moved to the fore to set Boeckmans up for the sprint.

Ferrari tried to get past Henderson but could do no more than drop Modolo off behind Boeckmans who launched the sprint. Modolo easily came around and seemed to be on track for another win when Mareczko suddenly came flying from far back. The Italian easily passed everybody and took a dominat victory, with Modolo having to settle for second and Francisco Chamorro narrowly edging Boeckmans out for third.


Jose Goncalves finished safely in the bunch and so retained his 18-second advantage over teammate David Arroyo. Nikita Stalnov (Astana City) was third at 56 seconds. Belletti won the points jersey and Niemiec was the best climb. Lluis Mas (Caja Rural) again won the Turkish Beauty Sprint competition and Caja Rural took a dominant victory in the teams classification.


With the Tour of Turkey done and dusted, the peloton will return to Europe and many of the riders in the race will be at the start of the Giro d’Italia which kicks off on Friday.


A hilly final stage

After yesterday’s lumpy stage, there were more hills on the menu on the final day when the riders tackled a 200.7km course from Marmaris to Selcuk. There was a big category 1 climb almost right from the start but from there the terrain was mostly downhill or flat. In the finale, there was a category 3 whose summit was located juts 10.9km from the finish and after a short, flat section, it was a very fast descent that led to the flat final few kilometres.


It was beautiful sunshine and very windy when the riders gathered for the start and they were keen to ride aggressively on a course that could suit a breakaway. Ilya Koshevoy (Lampre-Merida) and Jochem Hoekstra (Parkhotel) were the first to try but they were soon brought back and instead Uniero and Torku countered the move.


Four riders get clear

That attack didn’t work either and instead Jan Hirt (CCC) and Nicolas Baldo (Roth) surged clear. They managed to build a 40-second advantage as three riders took off in pursuit but the peloton reacted strongly and brought the trio back.


Instead, Alessandro Malaguti (Unieuro) and Muhammet Atalay (Torku) bridged across and this was the signal for the peloton to take a breather. As a consequence, the gap had gone out to 2.26 at the 25km mark and it had reached 3 minutes when Southeast started to chase


Mareczko is dropped

The headwind meant that it was a slow start and only 32km were covered in the first hour. The escapees hit the category 1 climb with an advantage of 3.25 and it was Atalay who led Hirt, Malaguti and Baldo over the top while Nazim Bakirci (Torku) was first from the peloton 2.30 later.


Lots of riders were dropped on the climb, including Marezcko, but they managed to make it back before they reached the first intermediate sprint at the 53.7km mark. Here Malaguti beat Hirt and Baldo in the battle for the points while the peloton crossed the line 2.55 later.


Lampre-Merida in control

The gap was slowly brought down to 2 minutes but it was back up to 2.30 as they entered the final 100km. Lampre-Merida took control as they put Simone Petilli, Przemyslaw Niemiec, Ilya Koshevoy and Kristijan Durasek on the front and the quartet cooperated well to keep the gap around the 2-minute mark for a long time. They got a bit of help from Domingos Goncalves (Caja Rural) but none of the other sprint teams lent them a hand. Meanwhile, Hirt beat Malaguti and Atalay in the final intermediate sprint.


As they entered the final 70km, the gap briefly dropped to 1.45 but Lampre-Merida again slowed down and during the next 20km, they allowed it to go back out to 2.45 as they battled through the strong headwind. However, they were not getting help and so they decided to stop their work as they entered the final 50km after Atalay had beaten Malaguti and Baldo in the Turkish Beauty Sprint. The headwind meant that the riders only averaged 33km/h during the first four hours.


Lampre-Merida stop their work

With Lampre-Merida disappearing from the front, all the work was left to Caja Rural who hit the front with Lluis Mas and Goncalves. They had no interest in bringing the break back and as Mas also stopped his work, Goncalves was just patrolling the front, allowing the gap to grow massively.


With 42km to go, it had gone out to 3.45. At the same time, Baldo was clearly getting tired and Malaguti made a small attack to get rid of the Frenchman. He didn’t even try to follow and was quickly reeled in by the peloton.


Astana City decided to lend Caja Rural a hand but they were clearly not chasing and the gap was growing quickly. When Baldo was brought back with 35km to go, it was 4.45 and it had gone out to 5.30 as they entered the final 30km. That’s when the chase got organized and this allowed Mareczko to ultimately emerge triumphant.



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