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Having initially been dropped on the late category 1 climb, Cavendish made it back to the front group with 12km to go before taking an easy sprint win; Durasek defended the overall lead

Photo: Tour of Turkey/Brian Hodes












02.05.2015 @ 15:15 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Mark Cavendish completed an excellent display of Etixx-QuickStep teamwork to take his third win in the Tour of Turkey by taking what looked like an easy sprint win from a reduced peloton in the penultimate stage of the race. Having initially been dropped on the final climb, the Manxman made it back to the peloton with a couple of his teammates before finishing off Mark Renshaw’s perfect lead-out by holding off Andrea Piechele (Bardiani) and Kristian Sbaragli (MTN-Qhubeka). Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida) punctured inside the final 3km but defended his overall lead.


At the halfway, Mark Cavendish was asked about his goals for the final part of the Tour of Turkey. He pointed to the uphill sprint in stage 5 and the flat final stage in Istanbul as his targets but didn’t mention todays’ penultimate stage as a realistic objective.


That was no surprise as the traditional stage to Izmir which has always suited the sprinters, had been significantly changed to include a tough 8km category 1 climb which summited just 28km from the finish. Cavendish had been dropped in the easier finish on stage 4 and so few expected him to make it to the top of the climb with the best.


Hence, it was no surprise that he started to drift backwards with 30km to go when MTN-Qhubeka made things hard on the ascent with Adrien Niyonshuti. Natnael Berhane took over and the former race winner created a big split in the middle of the group, with Cavendish being caught in the wrong half.


The Brit was surrounded by several teammates who went straight to the front of the small group to pace their leader up the climb but they continued to lose ground as the attacking now started. Carlos Quintero (Colombia) opened the game and he was joined by Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal), Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka), Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo) and race leader Kristijan Durasek.


That move was too dangerous and so Brice Feillu (Bretagne) brought it back. After a small acceleration by Quintero, the Frenchman started to ride tempo before Jan Hirt took over for CCC Polsat. The Czech was preparing an attack from his leader Davide Rebellin who took off with Alex Cano (Colombia) and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal).


Pauwels and Mirko Selvaggi (Wanty) tried to bridge the gap but only the former managed to make the junction after Cano had led De Gendt and Rebellin over the top. The quartet had an advantage of 10 seconds as they hit the descent while the peloton had been whittled down to just 30 riders. Cavendish had been distanced by a little more than a minute.


Fast riders Magnus Cort (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff-Saxo) made it back to the front just after the top and so their teammates Evgeny Petrov, Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff-Saxo), Damien Howson, Cameron Meyer and Christian Meier (Orica-GreenEDGE) started to work hard to keep the Cavendish group at bay. That spelled the end for the front quartet which was caught with 23km to go.


Orica-GreenEDGE stopped their work and instead Nicola Boem (Bardiani) joined forces with the Tinkoff-Saxo riders. At this point, a group with several Caja Rural riders made it back to the front group.


The Cavendish group was getting closer and so De Gendt, Ilya Koshevoy (Lampre-Merida) and Howson also started to work. Caja Rural also put a rider on the front but they were unable to resist the comeback of the Cavendish group in which Unitedhealthcare were also working to bring Daniele Ratto back.


With 12km to go, the junction was made and Cavendish quickly moved to the front end with his teammates Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Nikolas Maes, Tom Boonen and Mark Renshaw. Despite this fact, one rider from Caja Rural, Howson and Koshevoy continued to work and while the sprint team started to organize themselves, they set the pace until 3km remained.


At this point, Bardiani hit the front with 6 riders to set up Andrea Piechele and they stayed in control until Kris Boeckmans (Lotto Soudal) took a big turn. Then the Italian team again took over but they were unable to keep the strong Lotto Soudal train at bay as they lined up Gert Dockx, Hansen and Jasper De Buyst on the front.


Feillu tried to make a small attack but Hansen as quick to shut it down. Then Tom Booen tried to lead Renshaw and Cavendish out but he had lost his teammates and quickly stopped.


Instead it was Maximilano Richeze (Lampre-Merida) who took over with his teammate Sacha Modolo Cavendish and Renshaw on his wheel. When he swung off, the pace went down and this was the signal for Renshaw to take off. Cavendish quickly latched onto his wheel and after having been given the perfect lead-out he easily held off Piechele and Kristian Sbaragli to take a comfortable victory.


Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida) had a late scare as he punctured with less than 3km to go but he was given the same time as the rest of the peloton. Hence, he defended his 21-second lead over Rebellin as he goes into the final flat stage in Istanbul. With no categorized climbs, a bunch sprint is expected and so only bad luck seems to be a threat for Durasek.


A hilly stage

After yesterday’s big summit finish, there was one big climbing day left in the Tour of Turkey when the riders tackled a 166.3km from Selcuk to Izmir on the penultimate day. After a flat start, the riders tackled a gradual category 3 climb before they descended to another flat section. In the finale, they went up a category 1 climb whose summit was located with 26km to go and was followed by a descent and a flat stretch to the finish in Izmir.


There were two non-starters when 154 riders gathered in Selcuk for an early start to the penultimate stage as the CCC riders Lukasz Owsian and Nikolay Mihaylov were both absent. The remaining riders had their usual beautiful weather as they headed out on their hilly ride.


A front trio takes off

The riders got the race off to a fast start with lots of attack and it was a 3-rider break that opened the first promising gap. After 5km of racing, however, that move was neutralized. Sergey Grechyn (Torku) was very active in the early attacking but after 10km of racing, no one had managed to get clear.


The aggression continued until the 16km mark but moments later the elastic snapped when Muhammed Atalay (Tprku), Valerio Agnoli (Astana) and Sean De Bie (Lotto Soudal) went on the offensive. The peloton didn’t react and so the gap grew quickly. At the 29km mark, it was already 4.02.


MTN-Qhubeka up the pace

The peloton showed no interest in organizing the chase and so the gap went out to 6.55 after 68km of racing. That’s when they hit the first climb and here MTN-Qhubeka hit the front, trying to make the race hard.


At the top of the climb, De Bie led Atalay and Agnoli across the line while Juan Pablo Valencia (Colombia) managed to pick up the final point to extend his lead in the KOM classification to 6 points. Moments later Agnoli beat De Bie and Atalay in the intermediate sprint.


Lampre-Merida take control

The faster pace set by MTN-Qhubeka had paid off and at the 71km mark, the gap had been reduced to 6.55. However, they quickly stopped their acceleration and instead Lampre-Merida went to work, with Chun Kai Feng, Ilya Koshevoy and Xu Gang riding on the front.


With 75km to go, Xu Gang went down in a crash and so the gap went out to 7.15 as the Italian team waited for their teammate. Meanwhile, Rebellin fought his way back to the peloton after a puncture.


The peloton accelerates

With 68km to go, MTN-Qhubeka and Unitedhealthcare decided to up the pace when Ken Hanson, Robert Förster, Jay Thomson and Theo Bos started to work. The faster pace caused a crash when Grechyn went down in the rear end and had to leave the race.


The gap was coming down quickly and when Southeast also started to work with Andrea Dal Col and Samuele Conti with 59km to go, it was only 5.30. 5km later, it was 4.30 and with 47km to go, it was 3.05.


Lots of punctures

There were several punctures on the rough roads and many riders spent a lot of energy to rejoin the fast-moving peloton. Meanwhile, Atalay led Agnoli and De Bie across the line in the Turkish Beauty Sprint with 40km to go.


With 39km to go, Drapac hit the front and they were working wirh Thomson and Dal Col before they led the peloton onto the climb. Thomson again took over when the gap was down to 1.25 and then Drapac was back on the front.


Agnoli attacks

Meanwhile, Agnoli attacked his companions and only De Bie managed to make a big acceleration to rejoin the Italian. However, Unitedhealthcare now made the race hard as they put Davide Frattini and Frederico Zurlo on the front and so the gap quickly came down to less than a minute while riders were getting dropped.


With 32km to go, Niyonshuti took over and while more riders got distanced, Cavendish drifted to the rear end of the bunch. At the same time, the break was caught, setting the scene for the exciting finale.



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