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Cavendish survives the climb in the finale of the fourth stage and benefits from an excellent lead-out to take what seems to be an easy third win in the race

Photo: Tour of Turkey/Mario Stiehl










30.04.2014 @ 18:44 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) seems to be unstoppable in the Tour of Turkey after he won today's fourth stage of the race in a sprint from a reduced peloton. Having already won the first two stages of the race, the Brit dug deep to survive the climb in the finale before being delivered excellently by his lead-out train while Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) finished safely in the bunch to defend his overall lead.


It took some time for Mark Cavendish to get the ball rolling in 2014 but now it seems that he is firing on all cylinders. Today he continued his domination of the Tour of Turkey when he added the victory in the hilly fourth stage to the ones he had already taken in the two flat opening stages of the race.


This time, however, it was not a given thing that Cavendish would have a chance to sprint for the win. Inside the final 25km of the short stage from Fethiye to Marmaris, the riders would go up two late climbs and even though the similar stage had ended in a sprint two years in a row, many of the fast finishers had been left behind in those previous editions.


However, Cavendish benefited from a strong headwind that made it much easier to follow wheels and he was always surrounded by a very dedicated team. He only drifted slightly backwards in the bunch and crested the summit sitting comfortably in the main group.


He used the descent to move back up to the front with his team and as soon as they hit the flat road to the finish, the team took over the pace-setting. Iljo Keisse took a massive turn for several kilometres and from there the lead-out worked seamlessly.


Gianni Meersman and Gert Steegmans set up Alessandro Petacchi who took over inside the final kilometre and the Italian was riding so fast that a gap opened up, with only Mark Renshaw, Cavendish and Maximilano Richeze (Lampre-Merida) staying on his wheel. When Renshaw launched his lead-out, the group was down to three while the rest of the sprinters were scrambling behind in a quest to get back in contention.


Cavendish launched his sprint close to the line and he briefly looked around to check whether it was possible for him to give the win to Renshaw. As Richeze was still up there, however, he kept going to the line to take an easy win ahead of the Argentinean while Renshaw made it two OPQS riders on the podium.


Earlier in the stage drama had unfolded as rain had made the descent from the day's first climb very slippery. Several riders had gone down and so the organizers took the decision to neutralize the race for more than an hour, with the race being restarted at the bottom of the descent.


Rein Taaramae enjoyed a relatively easy day in the saddle and comfortably defended his 6-second lead over Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE). He will try to defend it again tomorrow when he faces a long 183km fifth stage. The first part is very hilly but as the final section is downhill and flat, another sprint finish is predicted.


A hilly stage

After yesterday's queen stage, there was not much rest for the Tour of Turkey riders as thr fourth stage was a short, intense and very lumpy affair. The riders headed over 132km from Feithye to Marmaris and even though there was only one categorized climb early in the stage, it was up and down almost all day. Inside the final 20km, the riders went up two climbs, with the top of the latter coming less than 10km from the line. From there, it was a fast downhill to the finish in Marmaris.


The riders have had unusually bad weather for this year's Tour of Turkey and even though it was still dry when the 146 remaining riders started the stage, it soon started to rain. The stage was expected to be one of two potential opportunities for a breakaway and so the race was off to a very fast start as a lot of riders had the intention to go on the attack.


The break takes off

Nonetheless, the elastic snapped surprisingly early when five riders took off. Federik Beckaert (Wanty), Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Adam Phelan (Drapac), Andrea Fedi (Neri Sottoli) and Luis Mas (Caja Rural) took off and they started to build a gap. After 22km of racing, they were already 3.30 ahead but the sprint teams have no plans to let this opportunity slip away and so they brought the gap down to 1.40.


On the first climb of the day, Phelan was the only one interested in the KOM points and he crossed the line in first position ahead of Mas and Beckaert. Unfortunately, the rain had made the road very slippery and on the first big descent, several crashes took place. As a consequence, the stage was neutralized until they reached the bottom where the race was restarted with a 2.30 advantage for the escapees. Last year's winner of the stage Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) briefly deemed the conditions to be too unsafe and stepped into his team car but changed his mind and when the race was restarted, he was back on his bike.


OPQS and Cofidis lead the chase

Omega Pharma-Quick Step went straight to work as only 86km remained. Kevin De Weert did a bit of work in the early part but soon left it to Petr Vakoc who swapped turns with four Cofidis riders for most of the day, with Christophe Le Mevel, Romain Lemarchand, Louis Verhelst and Jeremy Bescond all doing their best to protect Taaramae's lead.


The gap came down to 2.15 but OPQS decided to go easy up a climb which allowed the gap to grow to 2.35. Over the top, however, Vakoc went back to work and the gap again started to come down.


Lotto Belisol take over

With the stage being rather short, the riders had to ride rather fast to keep the gap under control and so the peloton was often strung out. The work had an effect though and with 50km to go, the gap was down to 1.40.


With 35km to go, Greipel decided to go for a repeat win in the stage and so he asked teammate Jonas Vangenechten to join Vakoc, Verhelst and Lemarchand who were the riders now doing the work. Meanwhile, Fedi beat Backaert in the Turkish Beauty Sprint to protect the lead of his teammate Mattia Pozzo in that special competition.


Mas attacks

With 26km to go, the riders hit the first of the two late climbs and Lotto Belisol now wanted to make the race hard. They lined out their entire team on the front, with Kris Boeckmans and Vangenechten setting the tempo.


Mas attacked on the ascent and crested the summit with a nice gap but his four chasers worked well together as soon as they hit the flat road. With 23km to go, the front group was back together but Mas' action had reinvigorated it as they had reopened the gap from 1 minute to 1.10.


The break splits up

The first climb hadn't done much damage and Boeckmans and Vangenechten continued their pace-setting all the way to the bottom of the final ascent. While Luis Leon Sanchez (Caja Rural) fought his way back from a mechanical, the leading pair were using their last bit of energy and when they hit the climb, the gasp was down to just 20 seconds.


Backaert made an attack but only got a small gap. Mas closed it down and launched an immediate counterattack to get a big advantage. Belkov rode his own steady pace to rejoin the Spaniard while Backaert and Phelan joined forces to form a chasse duo.


The sprinters get dropped

Lotto Belisol had now stopped their effort and instead Cofidis was back on the front, bringing Fedi back into the fold. Bardiani deiced to make things harder and their fast pace was enough to leave sprinters like Andrea Guardini, Theo Bos and Barry Markus behind.


The Italian team brought Phelan and Backaert back and then Cofidis agan took over. However, the GC battle heated up moments later when Alexandr Dyachenko (Astana) launched an attack.


De La Fuente makes a move

The Kazakh failed to get clear and instead David De La Fuente (Torku Sekerspor) countered the move. He got a nice little gap while Dyachenko now worked hard to set up Valentin Iglinskiy for the sprint.


Cofidis led the peloton over the top 10 seconds behind De La Fuente but Bardiani soon took over. Greipel was riding comfortably near the front while Cavendish was not much further back.


Astana lead the chase

An Astana rider went to the front and set a hard pace on the descent to bring back De La Fuente. He continued his work all the way to the bottom where OPQS took control.


While the sprinters jostled for position, Keisse did an amazing work to lead the peloton for several kilometres. With 2km to go, Meersman took over while Greg Henderson tried to bring Greipel into position,


With 1km to go, Steegmans did his effort while it was now clear that Greipel was out of contention, the German being very badly positioned. A few moments later Petacchi did such an amazing lead-out that a gap opened up and from there the outcome was never in doubt.



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