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by Shane Stokes
May 1, 2015
Picking up his debut victory of 2015 after a long wait, Italian sprinter Sacha Modolo timed his sprint perfectly on the slightly uphill rise to the line on stage five of the Presidential Tour of Turkey.
The Lampre-Merida rider raced in ahead of Carlos Barbero (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA) and Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff – Saxo), with McCarthy’s team-mate Michal Kolár taking fourth.
He had jumped early and held a gap all the way up the finishing straight, but was swamped just before the line.
Modolo’s success saw him take over the green jersey of points classification leadership from Mark Cavendish, who finished back in 15th place.
He explained afterwards that his triumph came despite a setback “I was a bit behind with one kilometre to go,” he said. “I might have touched a wheel, or someone might have touched me from behind, but I nearly came to a halt and I had to start almost from a standstill.
“Then again, other riders were coming backwards at me. This is my type of finish. I had good legs and I went with 200 metres. I didn’t want to miss the stages that really suit me. After yesterday’s stage got away from me, I wanted to win today.”
The first ten riders opened up a four second lead on the next part of the peloton, with some riders being delayed because of a crash. One of the beneficiaries was race leader Davide Rebellin, who bolstered his lead over some of his rivals.
He is now 22 seconds clear of Kristijan Durasek, the Lampre-Merida rider losing 15 seconds. Eduardo Sepulveda (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) is 54 seconds back, while McCarthy – who continues to show fine form – remains at one minute 20 seconds thanks to his third place.
Serge Pauwels (MTN – Qhubeka) is at one minute 38 seconds, a second ahead of the sixth-placed rider, Enrico Barbin (Bardiani CSF).
“I didn’t know the final, but I was told that it was uphill, so I wanted to be up front,” said Rebellin. “I knew I had not to finish on the wrong side of any splits and lose time. So the main thing for me today was to stay up front.”
He now heads into the crucial sixth stage, the second summit finish of the race, with a solid lead over his rivals and is looking more and more likely to take the race overall on Sunday.
The 159.9 kilometre stage ran from Mugla to Pamukkale, finishing next to the stunning “cotton castle,” a mountain structure covered in hardened calcium carbonate called travertine. This is deposited by the numerous hot springs in the area, and is partly why the area is a protected World Heritage site.
As has been the case on every stage thus far, the riders began the day with bright sunshine and warm conditions. One rider was missing from the lineup; stage four winner Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal), who left the race early to get ready for the Giro d’Italia.
After just over 20 minutes of action, three riders slipped away from the peloton. The trio were Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Alessandro Bazzana (UnitedHealthcare) and Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty – Groupe Goubert).
The eked out a lead of seven minutes 11 seconds, with De Gendt beating Veuchelen and Bazzana to take the prime atop the category three climb at kilometre 74.9.
That order was reversed in the intermediate sprint after 100.4 kilometres, with Bazzana netting the top points there. They were then absorbed by a group of nine riders from behind, with Sean De Bie (Lotto Soudal), Damien Howson (Orica GreenEdge), Davide Appollonio (Androni Giocattoli), Frédéric Brun (Bretagne – Seché Environnement), Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA), Natnael Berhane, Songezo Jim (both MTN – Qhubeka), Jef Van Meirhaeghe (Topsport Vlaandered – Baloise) and Ahmet Akdilek (Torku ?ekerspor) making it a dozen out front.
The bunch was wary about giving these any space, though, and the maximum gap didn’t go above 42 seconds.
Lluis Mas (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA) attacked with 43 kilometres to go, aiming to jump across to the leaders, but he was hauled back by the Etixx-QuickStep-led peloton.
Songezo Jim took top points ahead of Van Meirhaeghe and Appollonio at the category three climb at kilometre 111.5, moving him to just one point off the total of mountains leader Juan Pablo Valencia (Team Colombia).
The peloton accelerated and brought them back twelve kilometres later.
Another move went 30 kilometres from the end. Nazim Bakurci (Torku ?ekerspor), Jan Ghyselinck (Wanty – Groupe Goubert) and a persistent Bazzana raced clear but were brought back.
Lluis Mas (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA) then won the Beauties of Turkey sprint at km 139, which was dedicated to the ancient ruins at Hierapolis and Afrodisias. This consolidated his lead in the white jersey competition.
A short lived move was launched by Dmitri Gruzdev (Astana) and, after it was brought back, the peloton fought it out for the win.
The number of those in contention was sliced by a crash close to the end, and the uphill drag to the line also reduced the number of those in the hunt for the win.
Modolo timed his effort best, grabbing his first win of 2015. Rebellin was to the fore and put himself in a strong position to defend his lead on Friday’s uphill finish at Selcuk.