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After a great move by Renshaw in a very hectic finale, Cavendish was again given a perfect lead-out in the Tour of Turkey and held off Modolo and Ruffoni to win stage 2; the Brit also defended his overall lead

Photo: Tour of Turkey/Brian Hodes

MARK CAVENDISH

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SACHA MODOLO

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SOUDAL - QUICK STEP

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TOUR OF TURKEY

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27.04.2015 @ 14:31 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) continued his great comeback after a small racing break when he made it two in a row in the Tour of Turkey. After Etixx-QuickStep seemed to have been boxed in during the sprint, Mark Renshaw found a gap and again delivered the Brit perfectly, with the star sprinter holding off Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) and Nicola Ruffoni (Bardiani) to win the stage and defend his overall lead.

 

One year ago Mark Cavendish used the Tour of Turkey to get back into the racing rhythm after a small mid-season break. With four stage wins, the Turkish adventure ended as a huge success for the fast Brit and so he was keen to repeat that performance when he lined up for the 2015 edition of the race.

 

Yesterday he got it all off to the best possible start when he benefited from a great lead-out to win the opening stage for the second year in a row. And like last year he continued his domination of the race by taking a second consecutive victory on day 2 of the race.

 

However, things were a bit more complicated this time when the flat stage came down to the expected bunch sprint. Etixx-QuickStep always stayed in a good position near the front and allowed the Drapac team to take control with 8km to go.

 

The Belgian team loomed in the right-hand side of the road while the Australian team burnt up their matches too early by riding on the front. Just after the 5km mark, however, they kicked into action when Iljo Keisse hit the front as they went up a small climb.

 

The Bretagne team moved up alongside the Etixx riders before they allowed a Southeast rider to take a huge turn. Wanty now tried to win the battle by going head to head with the Etixx riders but it was Nikolas Maes who came out on top in the fight with Mirko Selvaggi.

 

With 2km to go, they again lost a bit of ground when Jens Mouris (Orica-GreenEDGE) took a turn before giving way for Tinkoff-Saxo with Pavel Brutt. That was the signal for Fabio Sabatini to launch the lead-out and he passed the flamme rouge with Tom Boonen, Mark Renshaw and Cavendish lined out behind him.

 

Moments later Boonen took over but he lost control when a Lotto rider and the Lampre-Merida paid of Maximiliano Richeze and Sacha Modolo passed him. For a brief moment, it seemed that Cavendish was about to get boxed in but Renshaw did a great maneuver by moving to the right to find a gap and launch his lead-out.

 

Modolo tried to anticipate Cavendish and actually got the jump on him. However, the Brit was clearly the fastest and when he launched his sprint, he passed the Italian while Nicola Ruffoni narrowly edged out Sebastian Molano (Colombia) in the fight for third.

 

With the win, Cavendish defended his overall lead but as there are no bonus seconds, most of the riders are still equal on time. However, he is destined to lose the jersey tomorrow when the riders head into the mountains for the queen stage. After two early climbs, the race comes to an exciting conclusion on the steep Elmali ascent which usually plays a huge role in determining the overall winner of the race.

 

A flat course

After the flat opening stage, the sprinters were expected to get another chance on the second stage which brought the riders over 182.3km from Alanya to Antalya. With no categorized climbs, it was an almost entirely flat affair raced on coastal roads and looked like one where the fast riders would battle it out on the roads in the big city of Antalya.

 

The riders had perfect weather conditions with bright sunshine and 25-degree temperatures when they gathered in Alanya for an early start. There were no non-starters as they headed out on their flat coastal run with a slight tailwind.

 

Lots of attacks

Despite the flat nature of the course, the race got off to a fast start with lots of attacks. Unitedhealthcare and Topsport Vlaanderen were among the most active teams but after 16km of fast racing, no one had managed to escape.

 

Jan Ghyselinck (Wanty) launched a promising attack but he didn’t have any luck either. Instead, Lluis Mas (Caja Rural), Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN-Qhubeka) and Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty) got clear after 23km of racing.

 

The break gets clear

Kevin De Mesmaeker (Novo Nordisk) and Federico Zurlo (Unitedhealthcare) set off in pursuit and while the peloton slowed down, the two front groups merged. Very quickly they got built a gap of 2.27 after a fast first hour during which the escapees covered 44km.

 

Surprisingly, the peloton started to chase hard and suddenly the gap had dropped to just 45 seconds. For a little while, there was a big fight between the two groups but after the Turkish Beauty sprint, the peloton again slowed. Here Mas managed to beat Zurlo and De Mesmaeker, meaning that the former two are now equal on points in this special competition.

 

The peloton slows down

Passing through Manavgat, the gap had been widened to 2.15 and at the 74km mark, it had been extended to 4.15. It even reached 4.47 before the peloton started to up the pace, keeping the gap stable for a little while.

 

The peloton was still not in a determined mood and so the gap reached 5.37 before they went into chasing mode. Like yesterday Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Etixx-QuickStep) and Gert Dockx (Lotto Soudal) hit the front and started to bring the gap down. With 78km to go, it was 3.40 and it was now coming down rapidly.

 

The chase gets organized

Zurlo led Niyonshuti and De Mesmaeker across the line in the first intermediate sprint while the gap came down to just 2.45 with 70km to go. At this point, Orica-GreenEDGE had also started to chase with Christian Meier but they quickly realized that they were riding too fast and so they allowed the gap to grow back up to more than 3 minutes.

 

While several riders fought their way back from punctures, the gap hovered between 3.00 and 3.30 and it was always Meier, Dockx and Van Keirsbulck working on the front. With 50km to go, the relaxed atmosphere was broken by a crash that brought down Theo Bos, Jay Thomason, Kristian Sbaragli, Roberto Ferrari and Jan Ghyselinck but none of them were badly hurt.

 

More crashes

The peloton had now accelerated and with 45km to go, the gap was only 2.10. 5km later it was only 1.55 and more teams now started to gather their troops near the front.

 

The escapees reacted to the faster pace and managed to reopen the advantage to 2.10. However, the peloton responded well and when Chun Kai Feng (Lampre-Merida) got up after a small tumble, it was again less than two minutes.

 

Puncture for Renshaw

Zurlo led De Mesmaeker and Mas across the line in the second intermediate sprint as the gap had now stabilized around 1.10. With 20km to go, however, it dropped to less than a minute and it was clear that they would soon get caught.

 

With 17km to go, Renshaw had to spend some energy to get back from a puncture but he quickly rejoined the peloton. Here Van Keirsbulck had finished his job and it was Meier and Dockx who ended the chase by bringing back the break with 11.9km to go.

 

That spelled the end for the two domestiques and so it was now the Southeast, Tinkoff-Saxo, MTN-Qhubeka, Unitedhealthcare and Etixx-QuickStep trains lined out on the front as they entered the final 10km. Two kilometres later, Drapac took control but in the end it was again Cavendish who came away with the victory.

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