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The 50th edition of the Presidential Tour of Turkey got underway yesterday in the seaside city of Alanya. Adam Phelan, from Australia’s only ProContinental team Drapac Professional Cycling, is taking part in the eight-stage race and writing daily reports for us here at CyclingTips. Here’s Adam report from stage 1.
As I write this the Mediterranean Sea consumes my view and people walk around shirtless in an attempt to get a tan. As it turns out, our hotel for the 50th Presidential Tour of Turkey is situated 10 metres from the beach. It’s hard to believe that I am at a bike race.
After having a massage and stretch, I’ve come down from our soigneurs room and I am waiting for dinner. Stage 1 has been raced and won. Mark Cavendish was the victor. His story, however, is only one of more than a hundred in the peloton. So as I sit on the beach, with a laptop and some time, I offer you my story.
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Five kilometres. That’s how far it took for today’s breakaway to be let go. Four riders — Mirac Kal (Torku), Marc de Maar (United Healthcare), Gijs Van Hoecke (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Martin Wesemann (MTN-Qhubeka) — shot up the road without much disagreement from the peloton. With nearly every team coming to this year’s race with a sprinter, a bunch sprint was almost a certainty.
The escapees did have the chance to nab some KOM and sprint points early on, but the stage final would see the fast men battle it out.
What about us at Drapac Cycling? We have brought along our Dutch sprinter, Wouter Wippet. For those who may not be too familiar with the name (particularly in Australia), Wippet boasts a fairly impressive palmares including a stage win at Tour de l’Avenir, the most prestigious u23 stage race in the world.
I remember racing him as an U23. I simply knew him as ‘that fast Dutchie with curly hair’. Now we are teammates, racing in Turkey against some of the fastest riders in the world. Funny how the world works sometimes.
The breakaway was given a little bit of breathing space (roughly three minutes) as the peloton snaked along the coastline into a light headwind. My teammate Robbie Hucker had a mechanical at the start of the stage. It sounded far more eventful than my start and I wasn’t envious at all.
Omega Pharma-QuickStep and a few other teams began to set a tempo on the front to keep the five riders ahead within a comfortable distance. It wasn’t until we’d turned around around and headed back along the coast to Alanya that anything noteworthy happened: the peloton was thrown towards the gutter as a bit of a crosswind had built up.
It was probably more of a move just to test the waters than anything else (as it didn’t eventuate to much), but it meant Wes Sulzberger had some fun, timing his trip back to the race car to get water bottles right at that very moment it all went down!
Heading into the final few kilometres we kept together and tried to move Wouter up into a comfortable position. Without the lead-out power of some of the other teams here, our job is to make sure Wouter gets the smoothest ride to the best position possible.
Today’s run-in was a little messy with a fairly big crash with 2.5km to go. We thankfully avoided the carnage. Wouter had a strong sprint, coming in a solid 11th, after starting his sprint from fairly far back (you can see him in the feature image, close to the right of the frame).
He has the legs to be right up there in the sprints this week and hopefully we can get up him up there in those final kilometres when he needs it. I think if we can do that he’ll be able to put on an pretty impressive show.
Tomorrow is another good chance for a sprint: 175km and pancake flat. I’m not sure if there is a forecast for any wind. That could make things interesting. But my thoughts about that can wait until tomorrow — dinner is calling me (and the Turkish can put on an impressive buffet!).
I’ll check in with you tomorrow. Hopefully I have good news from the boys in red. In the meantime, check out this video I put together about our time in Turkey so far.
Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey (2.HC) Alanya → Alanya
DE MAAR Marc
Lampre - Merida