VIDEO: Erdoğan cycles with ‘champion’s bike’ through bodyguards, ministers
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has cycled a specially customized bike, based on a model used by a world biking champion, during the launch of the 51st Presidential Tour of Turkey (TUR).
Erdoğan attended the promotional event for the upcoming race in Istanbul's Salacak neighborhood on April 18. Escorted by scores of bodyguards, Turkish President initially struggled to ride and Sports Minister Akif Çağatay Kılıç was even about to crash Erdoğan's bike at one point.
Among the ministers who attended the event, Erdoğan's spokesperson İbrahim Kalın was the first one who crossed the finish line.
"We still couldn't manage to make people love the bicycle. We are not like the Western countries in this sense," Erdoğan said in a brief speech after the event, vowing to create more bike lanes in cities and calling bicycle producers to make discounts to increase the demand.
According to Bayram Akgül, a board member of Salcano Bicycles, who is a sponsor of the TUR, the bike that Erdoğan rode had the same features as Belgian road racing cyclist Fabrice Mels' bike.
“We are very proud to be a part of this tour,” Akgül had said in an interview on April 17, adding Erdoğan’s bike, which carries his name, has 20 gears, hydraulic brakes and a carbon body.
Road to Alanya
The TUR will enter its second half-century this year, and an international peloton of the best riders will join the opening celebrations at the Mediterranean seaside resort of Alanya, where the first of the eight stages will begin on April 26.
The 2015 TUR will host five teams from Italy, four from Belgium, two from Australia and the United States and one from Colombia, France, Kazakhstan, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain and the host nation, Turkey.
The TUR will start in Alanya and travel to İzmir, with seven mountain and sprint stages, ending with a final stage in Istanbul on May 3.
The Bosphorus Bridge will be crossed twice in this year’s race.