Jakub Mareczko opened his season with CCC Team by sprinting to third place on stage one of the Santos Tour Down Under, while Patrick Bevin was rewarded with the most competitive rider award after his day in the breakaway which saw the New Zealander claim five bonus seconds.
Bevin formed part of a four-rider breakaway that went clear in the opening kilometers of the 129-kilometer stage, and quickly established an advantage of four minutes after ten kilometers. The breakaway, also featuring Michael Storer (Team Sunweb), Artyom Zakharov (Astana Pro Team), and Jason Lea (UniSA-Australia), worked well together and managed to maintain a steady advantage of three minutes for the first half of the stage, while temperatures soared well above 40 degrees out on the road. Bevin took the honors at the first intermediate sprint, scoring three bonus seconds in the process, and followed it up with second place at the second intermediate sprint, for a combined five bonus seconds.
The sprinters’ teams began to reel the remaining three riders in, at which point Bevin sat up and was absorbed by the bunch approaching the final 40 kilometers, with Storer and Lea following soon after. The race remained relatively controlled in the last 30 kilometers, with no further breakaway attempts, and with 10 kilometers to go, the sprint trains started to form. Mareczko was surrounded by Francisco Ventoso, Szymon Sajnok, and Łukasz Owsian as they battled to stay at the front of the bunch on the wide run into the finish.
At the last corner, Mareczko was positioned well and managed to jump onto the wheel of Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step), before sprinting to third place behind Viviani, who took the opening stage and first ochre jersey of the race. Bevin sits in third place on the General Classification after claiming the five intermediate sprint bonus seconds, and Marezcko close behind in fifth overall with four bonus seconds from his third place at the finish. Stage 2 sees the peloton tackle a reduced 122-kilometer stage from Norwood to Angaston which another expected bunch sprint.
Quotes from the Finish Line
Patrick Bevin: “It was definitely our intention to go in the breakaway and pick up some bonus seconds. We talked about it yesterday and if they were going to let a group go away and I could sneak off the front and take some seconds, in a race that is often decided by count back or seconds, then why not take it. So we went out and took them and start the next five stages with a head start. I didn’t find the heat too bad. Up in the hills it wasn’t terrible and because we had a group that was working there was no big effort. We rode hard for a brief period and got a gap, then we went back and forward with the bunch, and when you’re taking water you are not really doing any big acceleration.”
“It was definitely a gamble. You can take five seconds today and lose two minutes in three days’ time. That’s bike racing. We are here to try and win it and to lie down and wait for Willunga, well I’m not going to win it. 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.”
Jakub Mareczko: “The last kilometers were hard because all of the teams were trying to stay at the front. I stayed behind Ventoso, and behind me I had Sajnok, so we tried to stay in front with 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 Viviani when he passed on the left side of the road. I had to brake a bit as two riders in front of me stalled a bit so I preferred to pass on the right side. Viviani held on and I was able to get third place.” “I am feeling good but the weather was very hot today. I hope it will be a bit cooler in the coming days. It definitely gives me confidence here and we want to take a stage win here. 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.”