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By Shane Stokes in Turkey
Taking what he said was a very significant career success on stage five of the Tour of Turkey on Thursday, Elia Viviani broke the hypnotic spell Mark Cavendish appeared to have cast over the other sprinters in the race and defeated the Briton.
Cavendish had won stages one, two and four but Viviani wasn’t deterred, sitting on his wheel in the closing minutes of the stage and then blasting past inside the final 150 metres.
He finished ahead of Cavendish and third-placed Kristian Sbaragli (MTN – Qhubeka), notching up his second victory of the year after also netting stage three of the Settimana Coppi e Bartali at the end of March.
Race leader Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) finished safely in the bunch at the finish in Turgutreis, thus maintaining his overall lead ahead of Friday’s crucial climbing stage to Selcuk.
“This is my first experience of the Tour of Turkey after I won the seventh stage in 2010,” he said. “I won my first race in the pro ranks here so it’s a very special race for me.
“I came back after a few years and this is an important test for me for the Giro.”
The day’s 183 kilometre stage saw nine riders go clear early on, including Lachlan Norris (Drapac), Dennis Van Niekerk (MTN-Qhubeka), Marc De Maar (UnitedHealthcare), Matthias Krizek (Cannondale), Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural), Nico Sijmens (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF), plus the Neri Sottoli pair of Mirko Tedeschi and Matthia Pozzo.
These tried to stay clear but the bunch rode hard and eventually hauled them back inside the final half hour. Torku’s Mirac Kal then attacked with seven kilometres to go. He was joined by Marco Canola (Bardiani CSF), and then the rider who was fourth overall, Merhawi Kudus, jumped across. The MTN Qhubeka rider made it three out front and, more significantly, put pressure on the overall leader Rein Taaramae.
The trio dug in and opened a lead, but behind the sprinters’ teams plus Taaramae’s Cofidis squad were chasing hard. They were caught with five kilometres to go.
Cavendish’s Omega Pharms Quick Step team hit the front and tried to set things up for the three time stage winner. Caja Rural drove past and stretched things out on the rolling roads, but Omega, Belkin and Topsport Vlaanderen then took over heading on to the last of the drags.
Cameron Wurf (Cannondale) tried to get clear but was contained; however his team-mate Elia Viviani was poised and came off Cavendish’s wheel to grab the win. It was, he said, something that gave him a huge amount of satisfaction, particularly as he beat Cavendish to the line.