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by Shane Stokes
April 30, 2015
Hampered by a shoulder injury last year and consequently unable to sprint in the race, Andre Greipel put things right at the Tour of Turkey on Wednesday when he sped to his tenth career victory in the event.
The German rider beat Italians Daniele Colli (Nippo – Vini Fantini) and Daniele Ratto (UnitedHealthcare) to the line, with Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica- GreenEdge) fourth and Manuel Belletti (Southeast) fifth.
Other sprinters such as Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) and Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) were depleted by the undulating parcours and the tough finale, with a large climb topping out inside the final ten kilometres making things tough.
Both lost contact with the main bunch, which comprised only 56 riders by the line.
Greipel said that this selective course was ideal for him.
“I like this kind of finish, it is hard just before the finish and we had a good plan, let’s say,” he said. “We had a team that worked really good for the win today. I think it is a deserved win.”
Runner-up Colli knew that he was the rider to watch. “Everyone wanted to be on André Greipel’s wheel, but he went early,” he said. “When I started my sprint, I was already several lengths behind. He was impossible to beat.
“I knew the stage finish at Marmaris because I finished third here three years ago. I’m happy. We are a small team, and we are taking on some big names here. After this race, I’ll go to the Giro d’Italia to help Cunego.”
Ratto described the sprint as lively, presumably referring to some hustle and bustle.
“I found Colli’s wheel at the last moment, and he was on Greipel’s wheel. Catching Greipel was in the realm of the impossible,” he admitted. “I rode as hard as I could today. I’ve never had a team work for me the way UnitedHealthcare did today.
“I had one or two doubts about my condition after yesterday’s stage, but all my team-mates stayed around me and helped me all the way to the end. I have to thank them because, without them. I would have given up very early on in the sprint.”
Overnight race leader Davide Rebellin had no issues in retaining his lead, although fourth-placed rider Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff Saxo) attacked on the final climb, going clear in a group. However he is one minute 20 seconds back and is no immediate danger; in addition to that, some of the sprinters’ teams worked hard to close the move down, knowing that a reduced gallop was likely.
He remains seven seconds clear of stage three runner-up Kristijan Durasek (Lampre – Merida), with Eduardo Sepúlveda (Bretagne – Séché Environnement) at 50 seconds and McCarthy (Tinkoff – Saxo) remaining one minute 20 seconds back.
Serge Pauwels (MTN – Qhubeka) is a further three seconds back in fifth.
Yet again the weather was warm and bright at the stage start, which took place in the resort town of Fethiye. After a slew of early attacks six riders wrested clear just after five kilometres after the drop of the flag.
Paolo Simion (Bardiani CSF), Brice Feillu (Bretagne – Séché Environnement),Timothy Roe (Drapac Professional Cycling), Genki Yamamoto (Nippo – Vini Fantini), Kenny De Ketele (Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise) and Serhiy Grechyn (Torku Sekerspor) worked hard, with De Ketele taking the day’s sole mountain prime at kilometre 32.4.
Other climbs also featured but the race organisation only awarded points for this third category ascent. The three points yielded to De Ketele were of very little threat to the ongoing King of the Mountains Juan Pablo Valencia (Team Colombia), who has amassed 15 points.
The sextet continued on towards the intermediate sprint (km 48.9), but the front part of the peloton got across to them just before the prime line. However Feillu had enough of an advantage to pick up the five points there.
As was the case in the red jersey competition, this was of no threat to Mark Cavendish’s green jersey.
Soon afterwards a new group of six forged clear. Kevin Seeldraeyers (Torku Sekerspor) and former race winner Natnael Berhane (MTN – Qhubeka) were there, both disappointed not to be more prominent on the stage three summit finish and thus the general classification, and so too were Nicola Boem (Bardiani CSF), Florian Guillou (Bretagne – Séché Environnement), Charles Planet (Team Novo Nordisk), plus last year’s Beauties of Turkey sprints winner, Mattia Pozzo (Nippo – Vini Fantini).
The latter took the Beauties of Turkey sprint at km 100.8, hitting the line ahead of Planet and Seeldrayers, and picking up five points. That left him three short of the overnight leader in that classification, Lluis Mas (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA) plus Federico Zurlo (UnitedHealthcare), who both have eight points.
The chase had been mounted by Lotto-Soudal and Rebellin’s CCC squad but, with 30 kilometres left, Cavendish’s Etixx-QuickStep team hit the front and started drilling the pace.
This work hauled the break back with 11.5 kilometers left. However Etixx-QuickStep had burned too many matches and both Mark Renshaw and Cavendish were under pressure on the final climb.
Close to the summit five riders surged, with McCarthy and Pauwels hoping to gain time in the general classification and Carlos Quintero (Team Colombia), Lluis Mas (Caja Rural) and Valerio Agnoli (Astana Pro Team) visualising the stage win.
Mas and McCarthy attacked in the final five kilometres, using the move as a springboard to try to get clear. However Greipel’s team was working hard to control things and hauled back the break before the finish, with the big German powering in ahead of Colli and Ratto to take career stage win number ten.
Next up for the riders is a 160 kilometre race from Mugla to Pamukkale. Although it is quite lumpy, the final forty kilometres are downhill and a bunch sprint could again be possible.