The penultimate stage of the Tour of Turkey ended in the expected sprint finish with Elia Viviani (Cannondale) taking the win. Andrea Gaurdini (Astana) was 2nd and Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma – Quickstep) finshed in 3rd position. Kristian Sbaragli was the highest placed rider from Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung, sprinting his way into 6th.
While the stage was always going to be a regulation sprinters stage, Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung had a slight scare when Kristian Sbaragli, Youcef Reguigui and Dennis van Niekerk all went down with 29km to go. Luckily all 3 riders were able to receive a quick bike change and then a good team effort saw all riders safely back in the bunch before the peloton prepared for the sprint.
Leading into the sprint, there was a 180 degree turn just inside of 3km to go where a few riders went down near the front portion of the peloton. A few MTN riders were held up but nothing more. This crash did cause a gap in the peloton to form making the sprint slightly disorganised. Luckily Sbaragli and Reguigui were well positioned ahead of the carnage and the Algerian rider dropped Sbaragli off with 600m to go. As the sprint opened up Sbaragli dropped his chain, he was able to get it on quite quickly again but enough of a gap was formed for the front 3 riders to ride away with the stage.
Rider – Kristian Sbaragli
I was in a really good position at 250m to go but I had mechanical problem where my chain dropped. This caused me to lose a few meters and also another podium result. It was really disappointing.
Directeur Sportif – Manel Lacambra
We knew today Cannondale and Quickstep would control the race for the stage to finish in a sprint and so we focused on preparing the sprint for Kristian. Unluckliy for us Dennis, Youcef and Kristian were involved in a crash 30km to go but they all got back to the front group after we resolved some mechanicals caused by the crash. Then in the last 2km Merhawi had a crash too, just some bruises though.
Once again just before the last km Youcef did an excellent job by putting Kristian in the top 10 positions. Kristian took Viviani’s wheel and when he started his sprint the chain pulled off. He lost some time to put the chain back on again and this resulted in him finishing in 6th place. We believe that today without the mechanical problem he would have finished on the podium.
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)