Rebellin pummels younger rivals on Presidential Tour of Turkey’s queen stage

by Shane Stokes

Riding clear with the Croatian Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida) on the final climb up to the rocky summit finish of Elmali, Davide Rebellin (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) seized control of the Presidential Tour of Turkey with a solo stage win on Tuesday.

The 43 year old Italian dropped Durasek inside the final 300 metres, racing home seven seconds clear and 50 seconds up on the third-placed finisher, Eduardo Sepulveda (Bretagne-Séché Environnement).

Australia’s Jay McCarthy had a strong showing with fourth place, one minute 20 seconds back, with Serge Pauwels best of the MTN-Qhubeka riders after former race winner Natnael Berhane’s challenge floundered.

The Eritrean had a particularly heavy race programme recently and flew to the race one day before the start. Airport delays and a long transfer to the hotel meant that he only reached the hotel one hour before the sign on, immediately putting him on the back foot.

As expected, overnight race leader Mark Cavendish didn’t figure on the race’s toughest stage and lost his lead. Rebellin takes over the turquoise jersey and is in pole position to win the race on Sunday.

“The emotion is always the same,” he said, referring to the feelings of victory. “I’m motivated for every race. I put my heart into it and give the best of myself, especially on a finish like this that suits me.

“I’d say that my condition is better than last year, and I have the advantage that I knew the climb and I know the Tour of Turkey. I came here convinced that I could finish on the podium.”

Rebellin’s victory is a controversial one, given his past ban for doping. His team has been given a wildcard for the Giro d’Italia but reports have suggested that pressure was put on its management not to include him nor team-mate Stefan Schumacher in the lineup.

Stage runner-up Durasek said there was nothing more he could do in the finale. “I tried to attack Rebellin twice, but he responded both times and got back on my wheel,” he said. “That’s the way it is. I haven’t achieved the stage win I wanted today, but I couldn’t have done any more. And it’s still a good result.”

Sepúlveda said that he saw the attack but deliberately decided to bide his time. “When Rebellin attacked, there were still seven kilometres to go. I didn’t go with them because I thought it better to attack much later, with three kilometres left to ride.

“I stuck to my plan and I believed I could ride across to them, but just didn’t have the strength. Did I learn anything from today’s stage? Only that I should have gone with them…”

The 163 kilometre stage began in Kemer and once again was run off in bright and warm conditions. Multiple attacks were fired off before a move went just before the King of the Mountains at kilometre 35.

Marco Bandiera (Androni Giocattoli), José Gonçalves (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA), Juan Pablo Valencia (Team Colombia), Samuel Spokes (Drapac Professional Cycling) and Songezo Jim (MTN – Qhubeka) knuckled down, with Valencia taking the prime and the lead in the mountains competition.

Spokes was best in the intermediate sprint after kilometre 50, edging out Bandiera. The break opened a gap of just over four minutes, with Gonçalves taking the Beauties of Turkey sprint at Arykanda (km 99).

Valencia was best at the top of the category one climb at kilometre108.7, an ascent dedicated to the memory of former Turkish cycling champion Rifat Çalinskan, and further extended his lead.

Several riders got across at kilometre 126, with Tom Boonen (Etixx – Quick Step) and Thomas De Gent (Lotto Soudal) two of the most prominent. The bunch chased hard but before the junction three riders slipped clear, namely Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff – Saxo), Tour de Langkawi winner Youcef Reguigui (MTN – Qhubeka) and Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise).

However this move came to an end with 11 kilometres remaining. Beauties of Turkey sprints competition leader Lluis Mas (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA) was first to get a gap on the final climb, pushing ahead with nine kilometres left. This move lasted two kilometres, after which Heiner Parra (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA) and Rebellin attacked.

They were joined by Durasek, while behind McCarthy and Enrico Barbin (Bardiani – CSF Pro Team) set off in pursuit. Parra cracked and was dropped. Rebellin resisted Durasek’s attacks and then made a move of his own inside the final 300 metres, winning the stage.

He is seven seconds up on Durasek heading into Wednesday’s stage, while Sepulveda is 50 seconds back and McCarthy one minute 20 seconds down.

The race continues with an undulating 132 kilometres stage from Fethiye to Marmaris on Wednesday.

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