After being set up perfectly by his teammates, CCC Team’s Italian sprinter was in the right position when the group fell apart on the finishing straight but, with riders all across the road, Mareczko was blocked slightly before being able to claim a podium position after a messy sprint for the line.
Scorching temperatures saw the race organizers take the decision to shorten the orignial 209.1-kilometer race to 163 kilometers long and, with the heat making the race more unpredictable, there was a fight to make the breakaway.
After multiple attacks off the front of the peloton, a three-rider breakaway began to open up an advantage over the main bunch that initially settled at around three minutes 30 seconds.
With 100 kilometers still to go, the peloton split in two as teams started to pile on the pressure but, with the pace settling down once again to keep the breakaway out at the front of the race for as long as possible, the bunch came back together again.
The leaders took advantage of the lull in pace and pushed their lead back out to almost five minutes before a more serious and determined chase began with 40 kilometers to go.
However, as the gap came down, fresh attacks, including one from Nathan Van Hooydonck, meant that the race wouldn’t come back together until after the flamme rouge and with the catch made this late, it was, therefore, no surprise to see the chaos that unfolded out on the road.
Quotes From the Finish Line:
“It was a really hard race today and the extreme heat only made it harder. As a team, we worked well together and I want to thank the guys for supporting me. When the bunch split early in the race, we were on the right side of that and then in the final, when we could see that the race would come down to the bunch sprint, the team kept me in a good position and this was important in the finale.”
“To finish in a podium position is good for my first race back and on a day like this, I can be happy with how I raced and now I am looking forward to seeing what I can do at the VOO-Tour de Wallonie.”
Sports Director, Jackson Stewart:
“We did a super good job today I think. We tried to go in the early moves but then a small group went clear and that was good for us. The gap was kept under control and although there was a few times when team’s started to try to force echelons to form, we were always ready for them and the guys maintained a good position.”
“The guys were really strong and in the final, after a long day in this heat, we were able to work together for Mareczko while around us, the race started to fall apart due to the heat even with is being shortened. Nathan tried a strong move in the final when the control went but, he was pulled back pretty quickly and then everyone set up Mareczko for the sprint. He did a good job and it was a really close finish so we are happy with third place.”
“Today was definitely a warm-up for the start of the VOO-Tour de Wallonie and with all our guys coming out of altitude training, it was good to get a hard day of racing like this in the legs before the start of a five-day race.”
Grand Prix Cerami
One-day race: Saint-Ghislain > Frameries (163km)
Top 3: 1. Bryan Coquard (Vital Concept-B&B Hôtels) 2. Benjamin Declercq (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) 3. Jakub Mareczko (CCC Team)
CCC Team Top 3: 3. Jakub Mareczko 47. Francisco Ventoso 86. Gijs Van Hoecke