Cavendish clocks up third stage victory of this year’s Tour of Turkey

by Shane Stokes

Limiting his losses on the first category climb in the final hour of the stage and then returning with the help of his team, Mark Cavendish raced to his third stage win of this year’s Presidential Tour of Turkey in Izmir on Saturday.

The British rider was led out perfectly by team-mate Mark Renshaw and then jumped hard, getting a gap on his rivals which he held all the way to the line. He beat Andrea Piechele (Bardiani CSF), Kristian Sbaragli (MTN – Qhubeka), Manuel Belletti (Southeast), Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica – GreenEdge) and the rest of the reduced-size front group,

Asked by CyclingTips in the post race press conference if it was the easiest of his three wins thus far, Cavendish confirmed that was the case.

“Yeah…in terms of the final sprint, yeah, probably. Because it was a reduced field, you didn’t have a lot of the pure sprinters there,” he stated.

“Still, ten years into my career, some teams don’t give me the credit that I deserve [in terms of] how I can climb, really.”

He said that some of his rivals clearly tried to get rid of him. “MTN said they were going to hard and I told them ‘well, you better make it count,’” he said. “With the team we had, I knew we were going to get back.

“We just kept our tempo. It wasn’t worth going over the limit on the climb.

“Actually, the gap was a little bit bigger than we would have hoped, but my guys did an incredible job on the descent to come back. The group together stayed with me, they rode immediately. It was superb how quickly they got back. They took a breather and then they went into the leadout mode. It went good.”

Overnight leader Kristijan Durasek (Lampre – Merida) came under attack from his rivals, with second-placed rider Davide Rebellin (CCC Sprandi Polowice) going clear in a small group over the top of that first category climb.

However Durasek didn’t panic, believing that the break would be hauled back. This proved to be the case and he ended the day 21 seconds clear of the Italian and 32 seconds up on third-placed Eduardo Sepúlveda (Bretagne – Séché Environnement).

Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff – Saxo) is at one minute 14 seconds and Alex Cano (Colombia) is a minute and a half down.

Asked why he didn’t try to follow Rebellin on the climb, Durasek said that he didn’t believe the break could stay clear.

“The group was still big. There were 40 or 50 of us at the top of the climb, so I wasn’t worried. I knew it wasn’t a dangerous move. There was still a long way to go, it was windy, and so on… It wasn’t an easy run in to the finish.`’

He had a moment of drama at the end when he suffered a puncture. Fortunately this was inside the final three kilometres and so he didn’t stand to lose any time, as per the UCI rules in relation to that situation.

“I stopped at that moment. I wouldn’t have been able to do 200 metres more, because the bike was weaving from left to right,” he said. “It happened right at the three kilometre marker. If you look at the video, I was with my team-mates, weaving from side to side.”

The second-to-last stage began under bright, warm conditions in Selçuk, setting off from outside St. Paul’s Basilica. Early on three riders went clear and Muhammet Atalay (Torku Sekerspor), Sean De Bie (Lotto-Soudal) and Valerio Agnoli (Astana) established an advantage of over four minutes. They continued to push this out to nearly six minutes, but the teams behind started to chase and this hewed away at the lead.

The pace and the slopes of the first category Sabuncubeli Pass saw the peloton splinter into several groups. Cavendish slipped backwards but his Etixx-QuickStep squad remained with him and would bring him back on several kilometres after the summit.

Just before the prime line Thomas de Gendt attacked and was marked by Rebellin and Alex Cano (Colombia). However their advantage was modest and they were hauled back.

Cavendish got back on with approximately a dozen kilometres left. The bunch then stayed largely together until the gallop to the line, with the Briton winning with relative ease and Durasek holding his lead.

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