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Proving his huge potential, Mareczko timed his sprint perfectly to beat Greipel in the bunch sprint on the fifth stage of the Tour of Turkey; Belletti made it two Southeast riders on the podium while Bilbao retained the lead

Photo: Jérémy-Günther-Heinz Jähnick

ANDRÉ GREIPEL

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CAJA RURAL - SEGUROS RGA

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JAKUB MARECZKO

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MANUEL BELLETTI

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PELLO BILBAO

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TOUR OF TURKEY

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VINI ZABU KTM

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28.04.2016 @ 14:14 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Jakub Mareczko (Southeast) again proved that he is one of the biggest sprint talents in the world when he beat no less of a figure than André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) in the bunch sprint on stage 5 of the Tour of Turkey. The Italian timed his sprint perfectly to get the jump on the German who failed to make up much ground and had to settle for second, with Manuel Belletti making it two Southeast riders on the podium. Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural) retained the lead on the eve of the queen stage.

 

For several years, the Italian cycling fans have hailed Jakub Mareczko as the next big sprinter from their country and during his first two years at the pro level, he has slowly started to show his potential. He got the ball rolling at the end of 2015 when he dominated the Tour of Taihu Lake late in the season but it is in 2016 that he has proved that he can beat the fastest riders in the world.

 

In January, he got his first big scalp when he beat Elia Viviani in the Tour de San Luis and he went on to best Andrea Guardini in the Tour de Langkawi. Last month he won a stage in the Coppi e Bartali stage race and in less than two weeks he wants to prove that he can beat Marcel Kittel at the Giro d’Italia.

 

Today he showed that he is ready for the challenge as he added another big name to the list of sprinters that he has bested when he beat André Greipel in the final bunch sprint at the Tour of Turkey. Finding his way through a chaotic finale, he benefited from a bit of hesitation from the big German and then timed his sprint perfectly to hold off one of the most decorated sprinters in the world.

 

The completely flat stage had been a very controlled affair where Mareczko had shown his intentions by asking teammates to help Lotto Soudal, Lampre-Merida and Caja Rural in the chase effort behind a five-rider breakaway that had been whittled down to five riders with 30km to go. At that point, Riccardo Stacchiotti (Nippo), Michal Podlaski (Verva), Peter Schulting Ting (Parkhotel), Ahmet Akdilek (Torku) and Enrico Salvador (Uniero) kept a stable 2-minute advantage over the peloton which was led by Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal), Gang Xu (Lampre-Merida), Domingos Goncalves (Caja Rural) and one of Mareczko’s teammates

 

The gap stayed around the 2-minute mark until the Southeast rider exploded with 25km to go. Instead, Kristijan Durasek started to trade pulls with Wallays, Xu and Goncalves and that had an effect as the gap slowly started to come down

 

Ricardo Vilela took over from Goncalves, and a new Southeast rider and when Gert Dockx (Lotto Soudal) also hit the front, the added firepower paid off. With 15km to go, the gap had dropped to a minute and it was 35 seconds when Xu swung off two kilometres later.

 

With 11km to go, Schulting attacked from the breakaway and only Salvador decided to follow. The rest of the group sat up and was brought back with 8km to go.

 

While Salvador was struggling just to stay with Schulting, Simone Petilli (Lampre-Merida) hit the front in the peloton where the work was now left to Lotto Soudal, Caja Rural and the Italian team. They had reduced the gap to 20 seconds with 7km to go.

 

With 6kkm to go, Schulting finally managed to get rid of Salvador and he entered the final 5km with an advantage of 10 seconds. However, he was brought back just 1.5km later when CCC had blasted past the early leaders and controlled the peloton.

 

Lluis Mas (Caja Rural) took a short turn to keep his leaders safe before Uniero took over and they quickly responded when a Funvic rider launched his attack. That’s when the Lotto Soudal train kicked into action and it was Frederik Frison who brought his teammates to the front with 2km to go.

 

Kris Boeckmans took a turn for Lotto Soudal before they got some welcome assistance from a Southeast rider. Stig Broeckx was next for the Belgian team while Roberto Ferrari dropped Sacha Modolo off on Greipel’s wheel before he moved to the front to keep the pace high.

 

A Southeast rider led the peloton under the flamme rouge but Lotto Soudal seemed to be in control when Adam Hansen took over with Greg Henderson and Greipel on his wheel. However, they failed to respond when Remco Te Brake, Marco Zanorri (Parkhotel) and Eduard Grosu (Nippo) blasted past and it looked like they had lost their good position.

 

Henderson managed to rectify the situation and did a great lead-out but Greipel failed to stay on his wheel when he was pushed off by Grzegorz Stepniak (CCC). Hence, he was boxed in when Modolo launched a long sprint and instead it was Mareczko who had grabbed the Italian’s wheel.

 

Mareczko easily passed his compatriot before Greipel finally found and opening. However, it was way too late and as he even failed to make any inroad on the fast Italian, he had to settle for second. Mareczko’s lead-out man Manuel Belletti crossed the line in third while Modolo drifted backwards.

 

Pello Bilbao finished safely in the bunch and so retained his 5-second advantage over his teammate Jose Goncalves. He now faces the biggest test in the short, intense queen stage which has a flat start and a big category 1 climb in the early part before the riders reach a potentially windy plateau. In the end, they will tackle the tough summit finish in Elmali where they face the climb known as the Turkish Alpe d’Huez.

 

A flat stage

After yesterday’s sprint stage, the fast riders were expected to get a final chance in stage 5 which brought the riders over 189.3km from Alanya to Kemer. The peloton spent most of the day on the flat coastal road and there was not a single categorized climb, meaning that the wind was the only potential danger in a stage that was expected to end in a bunch sprint.

 

Alex Diniz (Funvic) and Mustafa Sayar (Konya) stayed at the hotel while the other 105 riders in the peloton took the start from a sunny Alanya. As in the previous stages, there were many attacks in the initial phase. Turkish champion Ahmet Akdilek (Konya) was among the first to try but he failed to get clear and after 9km of racing, it was all back together.

 

Six riders get clear

The first promising break consisted of Riccardo Stacchiotti (Nippo), Lucas Gaday (Roth), Raphael Hammerschmid (Hrinkow), Muhammet Atalay (Torku) and Simone Pedretti (UniEuro) but they didn’t have much luck eitherand it was only when Riccardo Stacchiotti (Nippo), Michal Podlaski (Verva), Kaspars Sergis (Alpha Baltic), Peter Schulting Ting (Parkhotel), Ahmet Akdilek (Torku) and Enrico Salvador (Uniero) attacked that bunch took a breather. After about 20km of racing, they had a gap of 1.10, and at the 22km mark, it had gone out to 1.45.

 

The stage settled into a steady rhythm where the peloton never allowed the gap to get big. At the midpoint, it was no more than 2.20, and when Stacchiotti beat Salvador and Sergis in the intermediate sprint at the 99.8km mark, the break inly had 2.10.

 

A big sprint alliance

It was a big alliance between the sprint teams and Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal), Gang Xu (Lampre-Merida) and Southeast combined forces with Domingos Goncalves (Caja Rural) to keep the gap at around 2 minutes. Meanwhile, Stacchiotti, Sergis and Schulting sprinted for the points in the Turkish Beatuty Sprint where the Italian held off the Latvian and the Dutchman to again pick up maximum points.

 

Matteo Malucelli (Uniero) went down in a harmless solo crash but there was not much stress in the peloton which had reduced the gap to 1.40 with 65km to go. Hence, Nippo-Vini Fantini sprinter Eduard Grosu also had plenty of time to rejoin the peloton after a very slow wheel change.

 

Sergis drops off

The gap stabilized around 1.30 as the riders enjoyed another easy day after the hectic start to the race and nothing had changed when they entered the final 50km. Moments later, Podlaski tried a small attack on a bridge but the only effect was that Sergis got distanced. The Latvian decided to wait for the peloton and was quickly swallowed up.

 

The attack was the signal for the escapees to dig a bit deeper and they did well to push the gap out to 2.00 as they entered the final 40km. When Salvador sprinted to the points in the final intermediate sprint with 34km to go – Akdilek was second, Stacchiotti third – it had even gone out to 2.15. Moments later, the chase got organized and in the end, it came down to the expected bunch sprint.

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