But if you see Jakub Mareczko’s name on paper before you meet him, you expect to meet a Polish rider. He has an Italian passport but a Polish name. He speaks both languages fluently. So what is Jakub Mareczko’s story?
“Italian people always have difficulty with my name. Especially as I speak like a native Italian but my name is Polish. In Polish, the sounds are different from how they are written as well. So I always have to spell my name. I’m used to that.
Both of my parents are Polish so I was born in Poland in Jaroslaw, about 300 kilometers from Krakow, in the southeast of Poland. When I was five years old, my mum moved to Italy and married an Italian which is why I have both nationalities. Polish was my first language, of course. I didn’t start learning Italian until I moved there and started school.
I still speak in Polish every day with my mum and with my dad, I speak Italian. Of course, I have spent almost my whole life in Italy now so Italian is now my first language but I speak Polish fluently. I never studied it though so there will be some words I don’t know, which is why I’m definitely more comfortable speaking in Italian these days.
I really like Poland and I still have family there. There are a lot of beautiful places and the people are really nice and friendly. When I was young, I used to go back to Poland a lot especially when I was an amateur as there was a lot of time in the off season. But now, there is not so much time, especially in the past years when I have been racing in China at the end of the year. When you are away from home so much for racing you also want to be home as much as possible, so I tend to stay in Italy when I can.”
Joining Poland’s First WorldTour Team
The 25-year-old made his debut in 2015 at the Professional Continental level, before signing his first WorldTour contract with CCC Team ahead of the 2019 season. Between 2015 and 2018, he claimed win after win, especially in China, and has an incredible 40 career victories to his name. The next objective for Mareczko is a win at the WorldTour level. He has come close before, narrowly missing stage wins at the Giro d’Italia where he has sprinted to second place on more than one occasion.
“Of course, every cyclist wants to step up to the WorldTour level and the fact that CCC Team is Polish was a big incentive for me. It is a Polish team but the organization and structure is from Continuum Sports, so I think it was a perfect fit for me in the WorldTour. It was the best choice and I am really happy.”
Debuting on Polish Soil
The 2019 season marks an important milestone in the history of the Polish cycling. CCC Team is the first Polish WorldTour cycling team and is set to make its debut on home soil at the Tour de Pologne in August. Jakub Mareczko will too.
“I have actually never raced in Poland. I will make my debut at the Tour de Pologne this year so I am really excited and curious to see the race. I am proud to be racing there, with my heritage, and to represent CCC in a Polish team. I think it will be a special race. There are a lot of opportunities there for sprinters so I hope to do well. It would be amazing to get a stage win as it would be my first WorldTour win, and on Polish soil it would be ever more exciting for me and the team.”
A Balancing Act
“I’ve spent most of my life in Italy and I have an Italian passport so that is my nationality. When people ask me if I feel more Italian or Polish, I don’t really have an answer. It is a difficult question. But, I don’t forget that I am also Polish. My parents are Polish, I was born there, and I haven’t lost that sense of myself. I am proud to be Polish as well as proud to be Italian. I love Polish food as much as I love Italian food.”
📷 Chris Auld