The final stage of the Presidential Tour of Turkey was a fast one. The peloton had to cover 121 km in Istanbul, and the Turkish capital provided a spectacular scenery. In the end Luis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) was able to hold of the likes of Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) and teammate Carlos Barbero to take the win. In the overall Kristian Durasek (Lampre-Merida) secured the win, with MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung’s Serge Pauwels finishing in 5th position.
Our South African outfit was one of the most active teams all week and todays final stage saw no difference. After a break of 4 rider got away early on the peloton kept its cards close to the chest and held the escapees within distance. With 5 km to go the bunch was all together, but Mas used the narrow cobbled climb towards the finish to attack. He got away and was able to hold off the rest of the peloton.
The finale was hectic, but MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung stayed safe. Youcef Reguigui was the teams best placed finisher on the day, coming home in 14th position. While he fought hard and managed to stay close to the front, the team also made sure that Serge finished without trouble. In addition to Serge’s 5th place in the overall, Songezo Jim rounded off the team’s performance coming 3rd in the KOM classification.
Youcef Reguigui – Rider
We focussed on the sprint today and during the stage I felt really well. The final circuit suited me well, so I felt very comfortable in the wheels of Jay Thomson, Theo Bos and Kristian Sbaragli, who tried to set me up for the sprint. The last 2 kilometers have been hectic due to the narrow cobbled roads and a few splits in the peloton. I had to spend a lot of energy to stay in the front group, so the result is not really what I hoped for. Nevertheless, the team put in another strong performance. We rode really well this week and it makes me proud that we’ve been able to present Qhubeka and our partners in the way we did.
Serge Pauwels – Rider
I am very proud of how the team rode this week for me in the Tour of Turkey. I have received the best support all week, but more importantly, we were fighting together every day as a team. We left our mark on the race instead of just taking part. That was really good. Even other teams based their strategies on our tactics.
Jean-Pierre Heynderickx -Sports Director
It was our plan to get another good result today. We didn’t quite manage that but given how the team rode all week I can just be happy. Everyone did a great job. We rode very active all week and it was great to see the fighting spirit of our African team! Securing 5th place in the GC for Serge is a good result and underlines our performance at the Tour of Turkey.