CCC Team rider Jakub Mareczko kicked off his 2019 season in top form, sprinting to a podium finish at Stage 1 of the Santos Tour Down Under WorldTour race in Australia on his TCR Advanced SL team bike.
Adding to the team’s success, the recently crowned New Zealand national time trial champion Patrick Bevin scored the most competitive rider award after spending most of the day in the breakaway to claim 5 bonus seconds in the general classification.
Bevin, riding a prototype WheelSystem currently labeled #overachieve, formed part of a four-rider breakaway that went clear in the opening kilometers of the 129km stage in and around Adelaide, and quickly established an advantage of 4 minutes after 10km.The breakaway group worked well together and managed to maintain a steady advantage for the first half of the stage, while temperatures soared on a hot day in Australia. Once the break was eventually caught, Mareczko’s teammates worked to put him in position for the final sprint.
“The last kilometers were hard because all of the teams were trying to stay at the front,” said Mareczko, who wore the Giant Pursuit aero road helmet. “I stayed behind [Francisco] Ventoso, and behind me I had [Szymon] Sajnok, so we tried to stay in front with [Lukasz] Owsian, all together. In the last corner, with a bit more than one kilometer to go, Ventoso was in front but I was a bit back so I found the wheel of [stage winner Elia] Viviani when he passed on the left side of the road. Viviani held on and I was able to get third place.”
After the race, Mareczko said he will continue to fight for stage wins in the coming days.
“It definitely gives me confidence here and we want to take a stage win,” he said. “It’s not easy as there are many teams that are trying to stay in front, for the overall or for the stage, so we will keep trying day by day.”
Bevin’s aggressive riding landed him in third place in the GC. “It was definitely our intention to go in the breakaway and pick up some bonus seconds,” he said. “I’m going to have to fight for every single second and that started at kilometer zero today. I would be happy with a top-five result on the general classification. I have been in the top ten here before and I think top five in a WorldTour GC is hard to come by.”
The six-day Tour Down Under stage race continues with Stage 2, a 122km stage from Norwood to Angaston, which is expected to end in another bunch sprint.