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Eritrean rider emerges as the strongest from a 4-rider lead group which had gone clear on the steep slopes of the Elmali climb in the queen stage of the Tour of Turkey

Photo: ASO/P.Perreve








23.04.2013 @ 15:53 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

Natnael Berhane (Europcar) delivered on the promises from the youth ranks by taking a magnificent win atop the Elmali climb in the queen stage of the Tour of Turkey. Opening up a blistering sprint with 200m to go, he dropped his companions in a 4-rider lead group and is now the overall leader of the race with 5 stage remaining.


Natnael Berhane has shown plenty of promise in the past years and prior to this season he was picked up by the Europcar team. With today's win in the queen stage of the Tour of Turkey he showed exactly why he has been considered such a huge prospect for the future.


With 4km to go on the very steep slopes of the Elmali climb he escaped from a diminished peloton and set off in pursuit of Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and his chaser Kevin Seeldrayers (Astana) who had both escaped earlier on the climb. Setting a blistering tempo, he caught the Seeldrayers and moments later he has also regained contact with Pauwels.


Pauwels was unable to keep up with the front duo and he was caught by a splintering peloton which was being led by Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural) who worked hard to set up last year's runner-up Danail Andonov Petrov. Moments later Angelo Pagani (Bardiani) attacked and he was later joined by Darwin Atapuma (Colombia), Mustafa Sayar (Konya) and Maxime Mederel (Sojasun).


The four chasers managed to gain contact with the front duo to form a 6-rider lead group which was desperately chased by a small peloton which now only consisted of Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Yoann Bagot (Cofidis), Rory Sutherland (Saxo-Tinkoff), Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge) and Florian Guillou (Bretagne). Edet worked hard for his leader Bagot but they were unable to make any inroads into the advantage of the front group.


Berhane and Sayar seemed to be the strongest and the Eritrean-Turkish duo did all the work while their companions struggled har to keep contact. The pace was too high for both Pagani and Atapuma who were dropped and later caught by the Cofidis-led group.


Inside the final kilometer Bagot finally made his attack but he was unable to bridge the gap. Instead it was Meyer who set off in a rapid pursuit and for a moment it seemed that the Australian could maybe catch the front group which was led by Berhane. However, the Orica-GreenEdge rider faded and it was left to the 4 riders in front to fight it out in a sprint.


With 200m to go, Berhane put down the hamme and his companions had no answer to his acceleration. He soloed across the finish line to take convincing win 6 seconds ahead of Seeldrayers and Sayar. Mederel followed a further 6 seconds behind while Meyer had been caught by Bagot and Sutherland and the trio finished 24 seconds behind Berhane.


With no difference between the best climbers prior to the stage, Berhane took over the leader's jersey from Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol). His Europcar now faces some hard work as they will try to defend their lead in the hard stages on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.


Starting tomorrow at 13.15 you can follow the first of those on



A strong break goes clear

The 153,5km stage from Antalya to Elmali was the race's queen stage and the riders had to tackle no less than one category 2 and two category 1 climbs before they hit the lower slopes of the day's final challenge. At more 10km, the last ascent was a hard one and especially the final 4km of the climb were very steep.


The race started off aggressively as a number of riders tried to create the day's early break. No one managed to get clear on the day's first climb but on the slopes of the day's next ascent, Mauro Finetto (Vini Fantini), Serguei Grechyn (Konya), Jaroslaw Marycz (CCC), Björn Thurau (Europcar) and Clement Koretzky (Bretagne) built up a gap. They were later joined by Timothy Duggan (Saxo-Tinkoff) and the 6 riders were allowed to take out an advantage of almost 5 minutes.


On the next climb, the group split up as Duggan and later Koretzky were both dropped and later caught by the peloton. Meanwhile, the pace had picked up behind as the Colombia team of Atapuma and Robinson Chalapud set a hard tempo and they were later joined by the Astana team who hoped to see Seeldraeyers and Andrey Kashechkin among the best.


The peloton starts to splinter

On a small categorized climb with around 60km to go, Marycz was also dropped and caught by the peloton which was now around three minutes behind the leading trio. The hard tempo from the Colombia and Astana teams meant that plenty of sprinters were dropped but as the bunch calmed somewhat down at the top most managed to rejoin the peloton.


The three escapees fought hard to keep the peloton at bay but as they approached the final climb, the pace picked further up. Orica-GreenEdge with Meyer, Bretagne with Florian Guillou and Bardiani with Pagani all took turns at the front of the peloton as the battle for position increased.


On the lower slopes of the final ascent it was the Sojasun team which took control of the peloton and their acceleration forced riders to drop off in large numbers. In the front group Finetto was dropped and later Grechyn also had to let Thurau go. The young German fought hard but with 7km it was all back together.


Pauwels builds up a gap

Attacks started to go off the front and even eventual winner Berhane was pretty active but the only one to open up a reasonable gap was Pauwels. For a number of kilometres he managed to hold off the splintering peloton which was now being led by David De La Fuente (Konya) who had team captain Sayar in his wheel.


Overall leader Andre Greipel fought hard to stay in contact with the main group but as expected the climb was way too tough and he was dropped. Meanwhile, Seeldraeyers attacked and soloed off the front in pursuit of Pauwels. This was the signal for Berhane to take the initiative which started the thrilling final to the queen stage of the Tour of Turkey.



1. Nathanel Berhane

2. Kevin Seeldrayers +0.06

3. Mustafa Sayar

4. Maxime Mederel +0.16

5. Yoann Bagot +0.24

6. Rory Sutherland

7. Cameron Meyer

8. Florian Guillou +0.28

9. Darwin Atapuma +0.30

10. Nicolas Edet +0.33


General classification:

1. Nathanel Berhane

2. Kevin Seeldrayers +0.10

3. Mustafa Sayar +0.14

4. Maxime Mederel +0.26

5. Yoann Bagot +0.34

6. Rory Sutherland

7. Cameron Meyer

8. Florian Guillou +0.38

9. Darwin Atapuma +0.40

10. Nicolas Edet +0.43



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