Bunch Sprint Opens Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey

Mon 22 Apr 2013

The opening stage of the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey was a straightforward affair along the coast.  Beginning and ending in Alanya, the stage was widely considered a day for the sprinters, and ORICA-GreenEDGE had elected to ride for Leigh Howard in the finale.

“We have two sprinters here in Aidis Kruopis and Leigh Howard,” said Sport Director Laurenzo Lapage. “Today’s stage was slightly better for Leigh, so the idea was to go for him today. We had Heppy [Michael Hepburn], [Tomas] Vaitkus and Kruopis for the train.”

During the first hour of racing, four riders slipped up the road. The peloton allowed the gap to open up to five minutes before Blanco and Argos-Shimano, both with an interest in the sprint, began to reel the escape group back to the bunch.

“It was an easy day,” said Lapage. “It was too easy of a day. There were too many guys that were able to stay fresh, and this made for a dangerous race at the end.”

Inside the final 20 kilometres, the breakaway riders had rejoined the peloton. The usual counter-attacks followed and were all quickly neutralised. Ten kilometres from the line, the bunch began to ready for the finish as the sprint trains started to take shape.

Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) proved quickest, taking the stage win and the first Tour of Turkey leader’s jersey ahead of André Greipel (Lotto Belisol) and Yuriy Metlushenko (Torku Sekerspor).

“We moved up to the front, but the guys lost each other in the end,” explained Lapage. “Leigh ended up finishing in 16th place.”

“Tomorrow is another sprinter stage,” he added. “The plan is to go for Aidis on stage two.”