Rein Taaramae, The Estonian champion riding for Team Cofidis took out the 3rd stage of the Tour of Turkey. Adam Yates (Orica – Greenedge) would finish 2nd and Romain Hardy (Cofidis) claimed the final podium spot. Merhawi Kudus, the young Eritrean climber from Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung would impress by finishing 4th, 38″ down on the stage winner.
Today’s queen stage at the Tour of Turkey was always going to be a battle with 3 big classified mountains on route. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung started the race on the front foot by placing Ferekalsi Debesay in the break of the day, which was formed at km 30, just before the first climb by 6 riders.
With 80km to go, Debesay was distanced by the leading group as they made their way up the penultimate climb. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung then took control of the peloton and proceeded to set an extremely hard tempo all the way to the top of the mountain. The gap to the now 4 leading riders was drastically reduced from 4 and a half minutes to just a minute and a half while a number of riders were shelled out the back of the peloton too.
Along with Team Astana and Cofidis, Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung continued to drive the peloton along the valley floor all the way to the foot of the final climb. The early leaders were caught with 13km to go as all the MTN-Qhubeka riders continued to take turns at burying themselves on the front of the peloton. With 8km to go, Linus Gerdemann led Merhawi Kudus to the front of the peloton and then proceeded to blow the race apart with the tempo he would set until 4km to go.
Kudus put in 3 hard attacks over the final 4km’s but the young Eritrean was a marked man and was not allowed to get away. A lack of cooperation among the leaders allowed Taaramae and Yates to then ride away from the lead group and open up a 30″ lead as the main contenders watched each other. The duo would decide the stage as the main group would sprint it out for the minor placings. With his impressive performance, Merhawi Kudus would ride himself up to 5th on the General Classifiaction, 38″ behind Taaramae.
Directeur Sportif – Manel Lacambra
We are happy with our performance because the team worked well and we did everything we possibly could today.
At the start of the stage we were controlling all the big breaks with Youcef and Kristian. Then we we paced hard on the first 2 climbs to try create a selection before the final climb. Johann was very good on the second climb and Dennis also did a great job. Once the final selection was made before the last climb, we still had 4 riders in the main group, Merhawi, Linus, Dennis and Kristian.
The team was amazing, constantly protecting Merhawi. Special mention must go to Linus who did and excellent job the whole day and also in leading out Merhawi to the last climb. Merhawi did his best, finishing with a great 4th place. This is very good for a young rider like him.
The final climb was not the best for him to be honest. It was too short and not hard enough for a pure climber like him. The biggest problem was the head wind though but we are satisfied with the result and with the work ethic of the team.
Stage 4 – Fethiye > Marmaris (124.2km)
A couple of short sharp climbs throughout the day could eliminate some of the big sprinters but a fairly large group is still expected to arrive at the finish together.
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)