The 4th stage of the Tour of Turkey ended in a mass sprint and the winner was yet again, Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma – QuickStep). The Manxman claimed his 3rd stage victory of the race by beating Maximiliano Richeze (Lampre-Merida) to the line. Cavendish’s leadout was executed to such perfection that his final leadout man, Mark Renshaw was able to hold on for 3rd.
Kristian Sbaragli from Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung had targeted stage 4 a number of days ago already and the young Italian didn’t disappoint. After some stellar work done by Youcef Reguigui over the final 4km’s, Sbaragli was dropped off in 6th position with 1km to go. In the fast finish, Sbaragli was able to come over the 2 riders in front of him to end 4th.
Stage 4 wasn’t your stock standard sprinters stage though, as the stage was in fact neutralised and stopped with less than half the route completed. The rain that plagued the riders for the better part of the day had made the roads very slippery and dangerous. After a number of riders crashed on the same descent, including our Merhawi Kudus, the race organisers neutralised the race. There was a break away of 5 riders that were called back to the peloton and the entire race convey then proceeded on very slowly until dry roads were found.
With 82km to go, the weather had lifted and so the race convey was stopped so the 2nd official start could be given. The break had their 2’30” lead given back to them before the peloton was allowed to start. Once racing began though the peloton looked very eager to bring the leaders back and they did so with 11km to go. Omega Pharma – QuickStep would then control proceeding right up to the final sprint finish.
Directuer Sportif – Manel Lacambra
Merhawi had a bad crash but today he showed again how tough he is. The cut on the hip is pretty deep and big but after the doctor cleaned and covered the cut he was again focused and ready to race. It is a little painful but he seems okay and wants to carry on racing. At the final climb and the final sprint he was in the front positions so we could protect his GC place (Rebellin lost seconds). We will see how Merhawi feels tomorrow when he wakes up and then we can plan for the next few days.
Without the crash the day was great for us again. The entire team protected Merhawi the whole day. Over the final climb Linus forced the speed to try create a better selection for the final sprint and then Youcef did excellent work positioning Kristian for the last 500m. Kristian did a great sprint and was very close to the stage podium.
I am very happy with what our 2 young sprinters did today and I am sure they will do better in the future.
Rider – Kristian Sbaragli
We tried to force a selection over the last climb but Cavendish was still there with his team. So he was certainly still the favourite for the stage today. I felt good and today was always my goal since the start of the race. I had a bit of bad luck as one guy left a gap to the first 3 guys with around 400m to go and i had to close it. I really wanted a podium but we will try again tomorrow. The team supported me 100% today and i am really happy about this.
Stage 5 – Marmaris > Turgutreis (177.3km)
A few big climbs early on with a flat final 70km’s might suit a breakaway but if there are sprinters left in the peloton after the climbs they will most likely ride for a sprint.
Stage 6 – Bodrum > Selcuk (183.1km)
A pretty long stage that ends with another summit finish. Although the finishing climb isn’t all that long it is quite steep, more of a stage for the punchers than your outright climbers.
Stage 7 – Kusadasi > Izmir (144.8km)
An undulating course that shouldn’t pose too many problems for everyone left in the race at this point. A bug bunch sprint can be expected.
Stage 8 – Istanbul > Istanbul (121km)
Final stage is an 8 lap circuit race in Istanbul, should be a nice crowd spectacle ending in high speed sprint finish.
Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey (Turkey) – (27 April – 4 May/UCI 2.HC) Team Lineup
Staff: Manel Lacambra (Directeur Sportif), Dr Jarrad van Zuydam (Doctor), Yvonne Houweling (Soigneur), Nico Beyens (Soigneyr), Heiko Heinrici (Mechanic), Andreas Beck-Watt (Mechanic)