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With a great solo attack on the cobbled climb inside the final 2km, Mas managed to distance the sprinters and held Cavendish off to win the final stage of the Tour of Turkey; Durasek won the overall while Rebellin crashed out

CAJA RURAL - SEGUROS RGA

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EDUARDO SEPULVEDA

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JAY MCCARTHY

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KRISTIJAN DURASEK

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MARK CAVENDISH

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TOUR OF TURKEY

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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03.05.2015 @ 16:42 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Lluis Mas completed an excellent week for both himself and the Caja Rural team by taking a hugely surprising win in the final stage of the Tour of Turkey. The Spaniard launched a big solo attack on the cobbled climb inside the final 2km and as Etixx-QuickStep ran out of power, he managed to hold off Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) and his teammate Carlos Barbero to win the stage. Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida) stayed safe in the hectic finale and secured the overall victory on a day whn his nearest rival Davide Rebellin (CCC Sprandi) crashed out of the race.

 

A few days ago, it looked like the Tour of Turkey would be a disappointing affair for the Caja Rural team. The Spaniards had lost their GC chances after Pello Bilbao had punctured in the queen stage and Heinier Parra had dropped out of the top 10 due to a problem with a plastic bag on a late descent.

 

However, the team refused to give up and in the final part of the race they have managed to turn the event into a huge success. It all started last Thursday when Carlos Barbero finished second in stage 5 and one day later Bilbao won the final mountain stage on a day when the team had four riders in the top 10.

 

Today they nearly repeated that excellent performance in the final stage when they again managed to win the stage, put two riders on the podium and place three riders in the top 10. In a very hectic finale, it was Lluis Mas who got the just reward for a great performance throughout the entire race by taking an impressive solo win.

 

Everyting was set for a sprint finish when a long chase was brought to an end with 4.5km to go. At this point, Etixx-QuickStep seemed to have everything under control as they put Nikolas Maes on the front.

 

The Belgian swung off and the Etixx riders got a small breather when Jens Mouris (Orica-GreenEDGE) took a big turn. Moments later, they were back in control with Fabio Sabatini but Tom Boonen, Mark Renshaw and Mark Cavendish had wisely slowed down a bit to avoid hitting the front too early.

 

This allowed Orica-GreenEDGE to hit the front, with Adam Blythe and Caleb Ewan both taking a turn. When the latter swung off, however, their sprinter Magnus Cort found himself in the wind too early and as he slowed down, Etixx-QuickStep again took control with Tom Boonen.

 

However, the Belgian team lost the race in the final U-turn inside the final 2km when they were passed by three Caja Rural riders who were setting Carlos Barbero up for the sprint. As they hit the final cobbled climb, Mas hit the front and the impressive Spaniard was riding so fast that his teammates could not keep up with him.

 

Suddenly, Mas had a big gap and as Boonen had blown up, Renshaw was forced to chase even before they hit the flamme rouge. The Australian managed to maintain the distance in the tricky, technical finale but with 500m to go, he had to swing off.

 

The climb and the many turns had made the peloton explode to pieces and now Cavendish found himself on the front with a lot of sprinters on his wheel. The pace went completely down and so Mas managed to increase his advantage.

 

Finally, Cavendish had to launch a long sprint in a final desperate move to catch Mas. He did a great performance to hold off his rivals but he never made it back to the incredible Spaniard who took the win, with Cavendish and Barbero completing the podium.

 

Kristijan Durasek didn’t make the front group but he stayed safe and managed to defend his overall lead to claim a big stage race victory. Earlier in the race, disaster had struck for nearest rival Davide Rebellin who had crashed out of the race and so Eduardo Sepulveda (Bretagne) and Jay Mc Carthy (Tinkoff-Saxo) were the riders completing the podium.

 

With his second place, Cavendish took the green jersey off Daniele Ratto’s shoulders on the final day while Juan Pablo Valencia (Colombia) was the best climber and Mas won the sprints jersey. Caja Rural took a deserved victory in the teams classification.

 

With the Tour of Turkey now done and dusted, many of the riders will travel back to Europe where some of them will turn their attention to the Giro d’Italia which starts on Saturday.

 

A tricky finale

As it has been the case for a couple of years, the Tour of Turkey ended with a short stage in Istanbul that saw the riders ride in both the Asian and European parts. The 124km course brought the riders from Europe to Asia and back to the European continent where they did 10 laps of a mostly flat 9.1km circuit. In the end, they left the circuit to head to the historical centre where they would tackle a short cobbled climb with less than 2km to go and several technical turns on a narrow road before they hit the 600m finishing straight.

 

There were no non-starters when the 152 riders gathered under a cloudy sky for an early start in Istanbul and as expected they got the race off to a very fast start. Torku attacked right from the gun but it was Novo Nordisk who initiated a 4-rider break as they went over the Galata bridge after 4km of racing.

 

The break is formed

The early attacker was Kevin De Mesmaeker and he was joined by Kenny De Ketele (Topsport), Eduard Grousu (Nippo) and Boris Vallee (Lotto Soudal). The peloton was pleased with the composition and they quickly got an advantage of 40 seconds.

 

De Mesmaeker was distanced from the break while Torku decided to chase as they had missed the move. later Carlos Julian Quintero (Colombia) used the small 40-second gap to bridge across to again make it a 4-rider group.

 

Etixx-QuickStep take control

The leading quartet passed the Bosporus Bridge to enter Asia with a 10-second advantage a little before Quintero made the junction and the gap was now coming up. With 108km to go, it was 1.30 as Torkus had given up.

 

Etixx-QuickStep took control and they kept the gap stable at 1.30 while De Ketele beat Vallee and Grosu in the Turkish Beauty Sprint, meaning that Lluis Mas (Caja Rural) secured the win in that competition. Moments later they again crossed the bridge to enter European territory.

 

More teams start to chase

The gap reached a maximum of 1.45 with 90km to go and now more team showed interest in the chase. Iljo Keisse (Etixx), Damien Howson (Orica-GreenEDGE), Xang Gu (Lampre-Merida) and Andrea Dal Col (Southeast) worked hard to stabilize the gap. With 75km to go, it was still 1.45.

 

The escapees upped the pace and as they entered the final 70km, they had extended their advantage of 2.20. This prompted Southeast to react and they asked Samuele Conti to work with Dal ColHowson, Keisse and Xu.

 

A discussion with the commissaires

Bardiani decided that they also wanted to be part of the action and they asked one of their riders to work on the front. This meant that the gap stabilized at around 2 minutes while Howson disappeared from the front.

 

Inside the final 60km, Cavendish dropped back to have a lengthy discussion with the commissaires as he felt that the conditions were too dangerous with too many spectators on the course. At the same time, the peloton upped the pace and as they entered the final 50km, the gap was only 1.30.

 

Rebellin crashes

While Grosu led De Ketele and Vallee across the line in the intermediate sprint, the situation stabilized, At the same time, several teams started to gather their troops near the front as the pace was now a lot faster.

 

Impressively, the escapees managed to react to the faster pace and they extended their advantage to 1.45. At this point, disaster struck for Rebellin as he and Stefan Schumacher (CCC) went down when a dog crossed the road right in front of them. Unfortunately, the Italian was forced to leave the race.

 

The gap comes down

Dal Col finished his work and so it was left to Keisse Xu, Conti and the Bardiani rider to keep the situation under control as they entered the final 20km. At this point, however, they were still 1.25 behind.

 

Lampre-Merida stopped their work but nonetheless, the gap was now coming down. When the Bardiani rider swung off with 13km to go, it was only 55 econds.

 

The break splits up

Keisse and Guillaume and Keirsbulck (Etixx-QuickStep) were now working before Drapac gathered their troops on the front. The Australian team started to work with Keisse and now Howson, Cameron Meyer and Christian Meier also came to the fore for Orica-GreenEDGE.

 

The combination of three strong teams meant that the gap was only 20 seconds with 7km to go and when Keisse swung off 1km later, it was only 10 seconds. This was the signal for Vallee to attack and De Ketele decided that he had had enough and fell back to the peloton.

 

Drapac and Orica-GreenEDGE were still leading the chase until Maes took over with 5km to go. Moments later, the break was caught and the scene was set for the surprising finale.

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