Turkish cyclist Sayar claims historic Tour of Turkey victory
At 24, Mustafa Sayar of the Konya Torku Şeker Spor team becomes the surprise winner of the 49th edition of the Tour of Turkey, and the first Turk to claim the trophy in the last six years when the competition reached a higher profile, attracting more Pro and Pro Continental teams. AA photoTurkey’s Mustafa Sayar won the 49th edition of the Presidential Tour of Cycling today.
The Konya Torku Şeker Spor rider maintained his commanding position in the eighth stage of the Tour of Turkey, and became the first Turk to claim the trophy after the tour reached a higher profile in the last six years, attracting more Pro and Pro Continental teams.
“I’m very, very happy,” Sayar said after the stage. “Istanbul is a very big city; it is very good for me to wear this turquoise jersey here.”
Sayar’s teammate Serhy Gretchyn won the mountain classification, Lotto-Belisol’s Andre Greipel claimed the sprint title and Katusha’s Mikhail Ignatiev won the Turkish Beauties award.
On April 28 German rider Michel Kittel won the eighth stage, but finished third in the sprint classification behind Greipel and Kittel.
Turkey’s Konya Torku Şeker Spor topped the team standings.
Sayar overtook French Natnael Berhane as the race leader on April 26 with a late attack. However, as a relatively unknown athlete, Sayar’s victory raised doubts in a sport whose recent past has been tainted with doping woes.
‘I am a clean and credible winner’
Sayar brushed off the claims, saying, “I am a clean and credible winner.”
This is the Turkish rider’s greatest achievement so far, but the 24-year-old has several junior-level titles under his belt.
The rider won the junior men’s MTB Balkans title and junior men’s national road race title in 2006. The following year, he claimed the national road race title and the national MTB title again at the junior level, as well as winning the gold medal in the Black Sea Games. Sayar then won the national road race title in the elite category.
Earlier this year, he finished first overall in the mountains classification and the points classification of the Tour of Blida and dominated the mountains classification in the Tour d’Algérie.
However, his victory raised eyebrows within the tour.
After the sixth stage, where Sayar effectively won the Tour, Kittel wrote a dubious comment on Twitter.
“I was not often in my life so angry about a result of someone else. And I see many people around me feeling the same,” the German wrote on the microblogging site.
Danish cycling club Team Saxo-Tinkoff also raised the issue with a tweet that said: “A VERY surprising stage win by Mustafa Sayar.” The tweet was later deleted from the account.
Last year, Sayar’s teammate Ivailo Gabrovski won the Tour of Turkey, but was later stripped off his title after testing positive for a banned substance.
Sayar said he was not in the same situation as the disgraced Bulgarian.
“Cycling is a very difficult sport and every cyclist sometimes has these kind of difficulties in their careers,” he said at the post-race press conference April 26. “Gabrovsky was a very good sportsman, but he was too ambitious in doing such a thing. I don’t think I will have the same situation.”