Throngs of spectators have been lining the streets in cities across the Turquoise coast to watch world-class cyclists compete in the 48th annual Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey (TUR).
The tour kicked off on April 22 in the southeastern province of Antalya, and wraps up on Sunday in İstanbul.
The TUR takes place in eight stages, each between 120-180 kilometers long, along the western edge of the country. In a departure from previous editions, which began in İstanbul and headed south, this year’s event began in Alanya on the south end of the Turquoise Coast.
From Alanya it headed north to Antalya in stage two and then up to Elmalı in the mountains, making this the first TUR with an uphill finish.
The course jumped to Fethiye to begin stage four, ending in Marmaris before heading off for Turgutreis. Stage six began in Bodrum and ended in Kuşadası with stage seven ending in the port city of İzmir, Turkey’s third largest city with. The tour jumps all the way to İstanbul for the final stage and begins on the metropolis’ European coast and crosses the bridge back to the Anatolian side for the finale.
The Turkish Cycling Federation (TBF) revealed the 25 participating teams in February. Of those, 23 are internationally acclaimed professional cycling teams from Europe to America to Australia. The federation was also proud to announce that two local teams, Konya-Torku Şeker Spor and Salcano-Manisaspor Cycling Team would be competing in the event, which has gained momentum over the past few years, thus contributing to Turkey’s burgeoning reputation as a capable host for a variety of sporting events.
Dress for success
The local teams did not make the grade in stage one of this year’s event with Ireland’s Utensilnord-Named coming out on top, followed by the Netherlands’ Rabobank and Team Type 1-Sanofi, which traveled all the way from the US.
Rabobank’s Theo Bos took the lead -- and thus his right to wear the turquoise jersey over the next leg -- as well as dominating the Sprint. He was followed in both categories by GreenEdge Cycling’s Matthew Goss of Australia and Daniele Colli from Team Type 1-Sanofi. The Turkish Beauties, distinguished with the white jersey in the following stage, were Frederique Robert of Belgium’s Lotto-Belisol, Maxim Belkov of Russia’s Katusha Team and Albert Timmer of the Netherlands’ Team Argos- Shimano
Konya-Torku Şeker Spor logged a better performance on Monday’s stage two, coming in third after Team Katusha and French team Europcar. Andre Greipel from Lotto- Belisol took the turquoise jersey in the second round, followed by Goss and Matteo Pelucchi from Europcar. Goss overcame Greipel in Sprint, however, edging him and Francesco Chicchi of Omega Pharma-Quick Step of Belgium for the green jersey. Team Type 1-Sanofi won the Turkish Beauties white jersey through Laszlo Bodrogi, who was tailed by Maxim Belkov and Matteo Fedi of Utensilnord-Named.
The Kazakh team UCI Pro Team Astana shone in the following stage and its Alexsandr Dyachenko came in second, behind leader Ivailo Gabrovski of Konya-Torku who won the turquoise as well as the King of the Mountain for the new Elmalı uphill finish as well as third place in Sprint, which Goss continued to dominate. Dyachenko placed third in King of the Mountain, while Fedi took the white Turkish Beauties jersey for the following stage.
“We had marked down this stage, and since I’m a reasonably good climber, I was the one to go. I decided to try my luck at eight or nine kilometers from the finish line,” he said, humbly describing his victory after the leg. “I gave it my all, never looked back, but I was still very surprised to gain time on the chasers in the climb,” he added.
Recalling his warm reception at the finish line, he said: “It’s very moving to hear the crowd sing the Turkish national anthem. I want to thank this team and its boss for giving me my chance.”
Though Andrea di Corrado of Colnago-CSF Inox (Ireland) led the third leg, followed by Jonas Aaen Jorgensen of Saxo Bank (Denmark), Gabrovski continued to dominate the race and King of the Mountain through both Wednesday and Thursday, earning Turkish cycling and his team more credibility abroad. The Bulgarian may just manage to carry the turquoise -- not to mention the Red King of the Mountain jersey -- all the way to İstanbul for Konya-Torku Şeker Spor.
“This is an important win and yes I’m aware that I’m in a good position to win the TUR. All I can say is that I’m going to do my very best to keep the jersey,” he promised on Monday.
His teammate Yuriy Metlushenko agrees that the team is in a good position. Thanking the team’s sponsors for the opportunity to compete in what he called the “most important event of the year for Turkish cycling.” “We train everyday and prepare only for this event,” the Russian rider added.
“We compete day after day and I feel good, the team feels good and my friends feel good. This is very important because it is the spirit of the team,” he said, discussing team morale. “That will help us to win every stage.”
Though the Salcano-Manisaspor Cycling Team has yet to win recognition, if Konya-Torku Şeker Spor manages to keep up the good work it will be a fantastic victory for the Turkish team among the impressive list of international cyclists.
However, regardless of the results at the end of the 48th TUR, it is clear that the team is growing and may soon become a household name in the cycling world.