Kittel win opens Tour of Turkey
Marcel Kittel of Team Argos-Shimano celebrates his victory at the finish line on the first day of the 49th Presidential Tour of Turkey. The riders will today compete in the 150-kilometer second stage, which will start in Alanya and end in Antalya. AA photoMarcel Kittel of Team Argos-Shimano led the peloton at the finish line in the opening stage of the 49th Presidential Tour of Turkey (TUR) yesterday, in the Mediterranean resort town of Alanya, as riders began their eight-day quest for the turquoise jersey.
Germany’s Kittel finished the 143-kilometer stage in 3 hours 8 minutes and 27 seconds, ahead of his countryman Andre Greipel of Lotto-Belisol, followed by Yuri Metlushenko of Turkey’s Konya Şeker Torku team, who came in third place.
The riders will today compete in the 150-kilometer second stage, which will start in Alanya and end in Antalya, after passing the ancient theater of Aspendos. The finish in central Antalya is expected around 4:30 p.m.
The 49th Presidential Tour of Turkey, which brings together 193 riders in 25 teams, will span the country’s Mediterranean and Aegean coasts before the eighth and final stage in Istanbul on April 28. During the 48th edition of the tour, the route was reversed to make an Istanbul finish.
Kazakh team Astana, whose Alexandr Dyachenko was given the 2012 TUR title after first placer Ivailo Gabrowski of Turkish team Konya Torku tested positive for Epo and lost the title, is back in Turkey to defend his title, according to team official Chris Baldwin.
“Our team is very strong and we’re coming to Turkey to defend our championship title here. Besides, we are targeting winning with Andrea Guardini in several sprint stages,” Baldwin said before yesterday’s first stage.
Guardini, who was then a member of the Farnese Vini team, won the first and seventh stages of the 2011 TUR in the first year of his professional career.
“Astana pro team has strong athletes who are able to win any race and be able to compete in any kind of race,” said Baldwin.
“While choosing our staff, we preferred to choose a balanced group by having both climber athletes and sprinter athletes. Since the Tour of Turkey has more climbs this year, we think that climbers have more of a chance, so we decided that the best team for this year would be a balanced and mixed team.”
Bruno Vicizo, sport director of Italian Lampre-Merida, noted that the Tour of Turkey course was quite demanding.
“But we also consider that there will be chances for fast wheels. So, in selecting the riders, we tried to create a mixture of qualities,” Vicizo said, adding that the team would not focus on any stage in particular and that it would be a mixture of different qualities in order to remain competitive from the first to the last stage.