Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey 2017 – 53th edition – 1st stage Alanya – Kemer 176,7 km – 09/10/2017 – – photo Roberto Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2017

PRESIDENTIAL TOUR OF TURKEY: SAM BENNETT (BORA – HANSGROHE) MAKES HISTORY

Stage report. Video at end of piece.

Kemer, 10 October 2017 – In Kemer, southern Turkey this afternoon, Sam Bennett (BORA – Hansgrohe) became the first Irish stage winner in the 53 year history of the Presidential Tour  of Turkey. 

Second was Marco Benfatto* (Androni – Sidermec – Bottecchia), and third, Edward Theuns (Trek Segafredo).

The story of the stage
The peloton, 104 riders strong, left Alanya at 12.25pm. The stage ahead stage included, at km 110, a Beauties of Turkey sprint worth 5, 3, and 1 point towards the Vestel White Jersey, and at km 146.3, a single category 4 climb worth 2 and 1 pts in the Turkish Airlines Red Jersey competition to the first 2 riders across. A place on the post-stage podium, and a distinctive jersey for the duration of tomorrow’s stage, were on offer to whoever could reach either prize first: a goal well worth riding for.

After a 5km neutralised section before the racing start at km 0, four men attempted the first breakaway of the race: two were Turkish national team riders, in the company of representatives from Wilier Triestina – Selle Italia and Soul Brasil Pro Cycling Team.

4 Onur Balkan (Turkish national team)
7 Batuhan Özgür (Turkish national team)
87 Alex Turrin (Wilier Triestina – Selle Italia)
92 Flavio Santos Cardoso (Soul Brasil Pro Cycling Team)

They were joined soon afterwards by two Bardiani CSF team-mates:

111 Vincenzo Albanese (Bardiani CSF)
116 Simone Sterbini (Bardiani CSF)

With a long, flat stage ahead, and plenty of sprinters here to ensure cooperation in the chase, the peloton let them go and after 20 km those six led by 4m08s.

By km 83, a variety of teams at the front of the peloton had the breakaway pinned at 2 minutes.

With 15 Salcano Green Jersey points available to the stage winner, the intermediate sprints were something of a sideshow. The first of them went to 111 Vincenzo Albanese (Bardiani CSF).

km 90.5 Intermediate sprint (Salcano Green Jersey points competition)
1. (5 pts, 3 bonus secs) 111 Vincenzo Albanese (Bardiani CSF)
2. (3 pts, 2 bonus secs) 92 Flavio Santos Cardoso (Soul Brasil Pro Cycling Team)
3. (1 pt, 1 bonus sec) 87 Alex Turrin (Wilier Triestina – Selle Italia)

After 108 km the breakaway riders were being held at 1 minute 38 seconds.

The Vestel White Jersey for the Beauties of Turkey competition came down to a single sprint after 110 km. 4 Onur Balkan (Turkish national team) ensured that the home team would appear at least on the podium once after the stage.

km 110 Beauties of Turkey sprint (Vestel White “Beauties of Turkey” Jersey)
1. (5 pts) 4 Onur Balkan (Turkish national team)
2. (3 pts) 87 Alex Turrin (Wilier Triestina – Selle Italia)
3. (1 pt) 92 Flavio Santos Cardoso (Soul Brasil Pro Cycling Team)

With seconds of Balkan’s successful sprint, his team-mate 7 Batuhan Özgür (Turkish national team) dropped out of the leading group. With about 60 km to go, one of the stage favourites, 22 Sam Bennett (BORA-Hansgrohe) stopped at the roadside, perhaps with some sort of mechanical problem. He then materialised alongside his team car, perfectly composed. The peloton is truly a foreign country!

Just inside 55km to go, the lead had come down to 1 minute 15 seconds. GazProm–Rusvelo led the peloton, with Trek-Segafredo riders Fumiyuku Beppu and Eugenio Alafaci taking turns to contribute to the chase, as did BORA-Hansgrohe’s Michael Schwarzmann and Leopold Køonig. Indeed Edward Theuns, and who said pre-stage that San Bennett had to be considered the favourite for the stage win, so his job was to stay close to the Irishman.

With 35.5 km to go and the slecond intermediate sprint almost in sight, Trek-Segafrredo, led by Greg Daniel then Marco Coledan, hit the front of the poloton with an abrupt acceleration. The gap, which had dropped inside one minute with 38 km to go, instantly collapsed, and the breakaway was caught.

But the move was too early for the intermediate sprint, which saw 125 Francesco Gavazzi (Androni – Sidermec – Bottecchia) take the points, ahead, interestingly of 47 Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates). More good work from the Turkish national team allowed 8 Muhammed Atalay (Turkish national team) to take third place there.

Ulissi had uncovered his cards: the 3-second time bonus could come in very useful indeed to the recent GP Montreal winner.

km 140.7 Intermediate sprint (Salcano Green Jersey points competition)
1. (5 pts, 3 bonus secs) 125 Francesco Gavazzi (Androni – Sidermec – Bottecchia)
2. (3 pts, 2 bonus secs) 47 Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates)
3. (1 pt, 1 bonus sec) 8 Muhammed Atalay (Turkish national team)

On the category 4 climb, the peloton, temporarily intact, split again. A mass move by Bardiani CSF proved successful, allowing Enrico Barbin to take the two points and, post-stage, the Turkish Airlines Red Jersey.

km 146.3 Category 4 climb (Turkish Airlines Red Jersey mountains competition)
1. (2 pts) 112 Enrico Barbin (Bardiani CSF)
2. (1 pt) 66 Michael Paluta (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)

photo Roberto Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2017

After the outbreak of hostilities, König and Alafaci resumed their positions at the front of the peloton, now travelling at high speed. The commissaires’ announcement that feeding would be allowed until 10km before the finish gave an indication of how warm conditions were out on the road.

With 15 km to go, Pavel Brutt (GazProm-RusVelo) led the peloton.

Inside the final 3km, a CCC Sprandi Polkowice rider, yet to be identified as we dispatch this communiqué, went down. A group of riders went down in the same incident, including 72 Aleksandr Porsev (GazProm–RusVelo), who certainly suspeected a right collarbone injury; 58 Diego Rubio (Caja Rural–Seguros RGA), whose left knee was heavily strapped; and two Soul Brasil Pro Cycling Team riders: 91 Alfonso Murilo, whose frame was broken; and 92 Flavio Santos Cardoso., who was rewarded for his efforts in the breakaway by a taste of the asphalt.

Presidential Tour of Turkey 2017, stage one: Alanya to Kemer, 170km
1. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe in 3-57-26
2. Marco Benfatto (Ita) Androni-Sidermec-Bottechia
3. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
4. Federico Zurlo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
5. Paolo Simion (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
6. Niklay Trisov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo
7. Boy van Poppel (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
8. Shane Archbold (NZl) Bora-Hansgrohe
9. Davide Ballerini (Ita) Androni-Sidermec-Bottechia
10. Michal Paluta (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice, all same time

General classification after stage one
1. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe