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Cavendish again gets a perfect lead-out and holds off Viviani and Guardini in the final sprint of the Tour of Turkey while Yates finishes safely in the bunch to take the overall victory

Photo: OPQS / Tim De Waele

ANDREA GUARDINI

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ELIA VIVIANI

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MARK CAVENDISH

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QUICK-STEP - ALPHA VINYL

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REIN TAARAMAE

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ROMAIN HARDY

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TOUR OF TURKEY

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04.05.2014 @ 16:21 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After two disappointing defeats, Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) got his revenge in the Tour of Turkey when he finally got the better of Elia Viviani (Cannondale) in the final stage of the Tour of Turkey. Again the Brit benefited from a fabulous lead-out and held off his Italian rival and Andrea Guardini (Astana) to take his fourth stage win in the race while Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE) finished safely in the bunch to secure the overall victory.

 

For Mark Cavendish, it is a rare experience to be beaten twice in a row by a rival sprinter but that's what has happened for the Manxman at the Tour of Turkey. In stages 5 and 7 of the race, the Brit was given a perfect lead-out but on both occasions, he was beaten fair and square by a very fast Elia Viviani (Cannondale).

 

Today he got a much needed revenge in the final duel between the two in this year's edition of the Turkish race when he beat his rival in the final stage of the race. Again the Brit benefited from an excellent lead-out and this time he had the speed to hold off his rivals.

 

Inside the final two kilometres of the stage, the Omega Pharma-Quick Step train took complete control of the race. Iljo Keisse, Gianni Meersman, Gert Steegmans, Alessandro Petacchi and Cavendish moved to the head of the field while Viviani had positioned himself perfectly on the Brit's wheel.

 

While Keisse and Meersman took some impressive turns on the front, Andrea Guardini did a good job to push Viviani away from the position behind Cavendish, pushing the Cannondale sprinter one position further back. Meanwhile, Steegmans produced an amazing performance on the front, opening up a gap behind Guardini, Viviani and Greg Henderson (Lotto Belisol).

 

Behind the other sprinters were fighting hard to rejoin the Omega Pharma-Quick Step machine that was now led by Petacchi who again gave Cavendish the perfect lead-out. With Guardini and Viviani right behind him, all was set for a close sprint though.

 

Guardini was the first to kick but Cavendish reacted immediately, swerving to the left to box the Italian against the Italian. The Astana rider had to stop his effort and lost all chance of improving on the second place he took in this stage 12 months ago.

 

Instead, it was Viviani who tried to pass Cavendish on the other side but unlike the last few days, he didn't have the speed to come past. Cavendish rolled across the line to take a comfortable victory by exactly a bike length while a disappointed Guardini rolled across the line in third.

 

A little further back Adam Yates crossed the line safely and the young Brit could raise his arms in celebration of his overall victory in the Turkish race. Having started the race just 1-second ahead of Rein Taaramae (Cofidis), he had to stay near the front to avoid any splits and he did well to secure himself the biggest win of his career.

 

In fact, it was Taaramae who was caught behind a 4-second split but that didn't mean a lot for the Estonian who still took 2nd overall. His teammate Romain Hardy took the final spot on the podium in a good race for Cofidis that also won the teams classification. Marc De Maar (Unitedhealthcare) took the mountains jersey, Mattia Pozzo (Neri Sottoli) the Turkish Beauty Sprints competition and Cavendish a comfortable win in the points competition.

 

The riders will now return to Europe and for many of them, the race was the final warm-up for the Giro d'Italia which starts on Friday in Belfast.

 

A flat circuit race

For the third year in a row, the Tour of Turkey ended with a circuit race in Istanbul in a stage that is the only major UCI race to take place on two different continents. Starting in the European part of the city, the riders crossed the Bosporus bridge in the early part of the 121km stage and ended the race by doing 8 laps of an almost completely flat 12km circuit near the seafront.

 

The riders have not had much luck with the weather in this year's Tour of Turkey and it wasn't much different for the final stage as the riders took the start on slick roads but luckily dry conditions. Rick Flens and Jetse Bol (Belkin) didn't take the start as minor health issues forced them out of the race as they didn't want to take any risks so close to the Giro.

 

Many attacks

The stage may have had sprint written all over it but this did not stop the riders from wanting to go on the attack. When the 2.4km neutral zone had ended, the first attack was launched by a Wanty rider and from there, the attacking kept going for almost an hour before the break finally took off.

 

Frederik Backaert (Wanty), Pozzo, Luis Mas (Caja Rrual), Alessandro Bazzana (Unitedhealthcare), Davide Frattini (Unitedhealthcare), Alexandr Dyachenko (Astana) Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida), Gianni Meersman (OPQS), Martin Wesemann (MTN), Ferekalsi Debesay (MTN) Cameron Wurf (Cannondale) Davide Formolo (Cannondale), Greg Henderson (Lotto Belisol) and Nazer Bakirci (Torku) were just some of a long list of riders that tried to get clear in the hectic early part of the race but only very few of them got a noticeable gap. When the riders crossed the Bosporus bridge after less than 10km of racing, it seemed that David De La Fuente (Torku) and Pozzo had made the difference but at the 11km mark, it was back together.

 

Napolitano crashes

A crash brought down Wanty sprinter Danilo Napolitano when his bike slid out on the slippery roads and the Italian had to abandon the race. Up ahead, it seemed that the elastic had snapped when Bazzana, Charles Planet (Novo Nordisk), Ahmet Akdilek (Torku Sekerspor), Pablo Colonna (Bardiani), and Mirko Tedeschi (Neri Sottoli) got a nice gap but Lotto shut it down.

 

Tomasz Kiendys (CCC) won the intermediate sprint ahead of Luis Mas and Jai Crawford (Drapac) after 35km of racing at a time where those three riders were involved in an attack. The riders got onto the finishing circuit and finished their first lap without a break getting clear.

 

The break is formed

At the 37km mark, Bakirci and Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida) attacked and they were joined by Youcef Reguigui (MTN), Javier Megias (Novo Nordisk), Colonna and Kiendys to form a 6-rider group. Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural) bridged the gap and finally the peloton slowed down for a brief moment, allowing the gap to reach 35 seconds.

 

With a short stage and a big group, however, OPQS and Cannondale were reluctant to give them too luch leeway. Juraj Sagan, Cameron Wurf (both Cannondale), Kevin De Weert and Petr Vakoc (both OPQS) started to chase almost immediately and they even got some assistance from André Greipel (Lotto Belisol) who was again playing the domestique role.

 

The gap is stable

Those 5 riders did a good job to keep the gap stable at around 30 seconds for most of the day, with the advantage reaching its peak at 40 seconds after 57km of racing. 2km further up the road, Greipel stopped his work, leaving it to the four remaining workers to keep the gap stable.

 

The break constantly hovered up and down between the 25- and 35-second marks while Neri Sottoli also added a rider to the chase when 50km remained. The five hard-working riders remained in control until 10km remained.

 

Kudus crashes

31km from the finish, a crash brought down Merhawi Kudus (MTN), Fabricio Ferrari, Mas and Heiner Parra (all Caja Rural) and while the latter three all continued, the former seemed to have broken his collarbone.

 

In the breakaway, Reguigui didn't contribute to the pace-setting and this was obviously frustrating for his fellow escapees. With 27km to go, it became too much for Megias who positioned himself on the wheel of the Algerian, forcing him to constantly closing a few small gaps. From there, Megias didn't do any work either and it was left to their 5 companions to press on.

 

The break splits up

With 22km to go, Colonna made an attack as he wanted to get rid of Megias and Reguigui but he didn't have any success. 5km further up the road, Aramendia made a move and was joined by Colanna, Kiendys and Conti. Reguigui and Megias sprinted back to the break while Bakirci fell back to the peloton.

 

Kiendys made the next attack and this time only Aramendia and Colonna responded. Conti, Reguigui and Megias followed a little further behind but as the Italian didn't get any help, they were caught.

 

The break is caught

The front trio started the final lap with a 13-second gap but with 9km to go, it was all over. The battle for position had now started as it a drag race between the Astana, Lampre-Merida, Cannondale, and OPQS trains on the front.

 

With 8km to go, Topsport Vlaanderen lined out 5 riders on the front but they lost control when Orica-GreenEDGE wanted to keep Yates safe. Until the 3km to go mark, Jens Mouris, Leigh Howard and Damien Howson took some huge turns to string out the peloton.

 

OPQS take control

With three kilometres to go, OPQS took over but realized that it was too early and instead left it to Lotto to set the pace. The two trains battled a bit for position until Cavedish's team finally came out on top with less than 2km to go.

 

From there Keisse, Meersman, Steegmans and Petacchi dominated the finale while Cavendish got an armchair ride all the way until the final 250m where he launched his sprint. He boxed Guardini towards the barriers and held off Viviani and so ended the Tour of Turkey by winning half of the stages while a happy Yates secured the biggest win of his short career.

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