Tour of Hainan: Stępniak again in top 5

Grzegorz Stępnik confimred his solid form, by claiming second consecutive top 5 place in Tour of Hainan. Stage 6 was won by Jakub Mareczko (Southeast). 

“Riders in orage” were very active right after the start of 174-kilometer stage. Leszek Pluciński was one of those riders who was very aggressive but the peloton didn’t let him create too much of a gap.  Julien El Fares (Team Marseille 13 KTM) managed to break clear alone and was chased by Mykhaylo Kononenko (Ukraine). The Ukrainian was unable to close the gap and had to return to the bunch. The Frenchman established over 5-minute lead, but solo ride had its toll on him and was caught at 82 kilometer mark.

Next move included Yikui Niu (China Yindongi Hainan – Wildto Cycling) and Me Guangtong (Hengxiang Cycling Team). Josef Cerny followed them, alongside Rafaa Chtioui (Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team – Al Ahli Club). They merged together but unfortunately Czech couldn’t maintain the pace and was dropped. At maximum point, the leading trio’s advantage was at 2 minutes.

This time the chasing process was very precise and the bunch reeled the escapees in with 4 kilometers to go. For the sixth consecutive time, the stage came down to a bunch sprint finish. On that day it was Jakub Mareczko who was the fastest, as he outsprinted Andrea Palini (Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team – Al Ahli Club) and race leader, Sacha Modolo (Lampre – Merida). Grzegorz Stępniak was close to the podium, since he finished in 5th place.

We were very aggressive early on. We couldn’t make the initial breakaway, but on the second attempt I was able to go clear. We went away with three other riders, but the main group was not making things easy for us. In the finale we set up an “orange train” at the head of the bunch to make sure that Grzegorz is well positioned – Josef Cerny said afterwards.