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Cavendish is again given a perfect lead-out by his team but Viviani comes off his wheel and takes a very convincing win in the fifth stage while Taaramae defends his lead

Photo: Sirotti








01.05.2014 @ 15:40 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Elia Viviani (Cannondale) proved that Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) is not unbeatable in the Tour of Turkey when he beat him in a straight and fair sprint battle in the fifth stage of the race. At the end of a hard, selective finale that included several small climbs, Cavendish was again given a perfect lead-out but Viviani came perfectly off his wheel to take a very convincing win while Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) survived the late attacks from the GC riders to defend his overall lead.


One year ago Elia Viviani was extremely frustrated when he was beaten into second by Mark Cavendish in the first stage of the Giro d'Italia and so missed out on the opportunity to wear the first Maglia Rosa in the race. Since then he has been wondering how to beat the fast Brit but now he has apparently found the formula.


Today he got his revenge from that Giro defeat when he proved that he is ready for the upcoming grand tour by beating Cavendish fair and square in a sprint on the fifth stage of the Tour of Turkey. And he not only relegated the Brit to second, he did so in a very convincing fashion.


The finale was characterized by several small climbs that put the sprinters under pressure and Omega Pharma-Quick Step had a hard time controlling the many attacks. Nonetheless, the team did a splendid job and when Alessandro Petacchi closed down a move by Davide Rebellin (CCC) over the top of the final climb just 1.5km from the finish, all was set for another Cavendish win.


Petacchi kept the pace high past the flamme rouge while the sprinters were scrambling for position behind Cavendish. Viviani had won the battle, however, and was perfectly positioned on the Brit's wheel while Kristian Sbaragli (MTN) got some great help from teammate Youcef Reguigui to get onto Viviani's wheel.


Inside the final kilometre, Renshaw made his lead-out and when Cavendish launched his sprint, he was expected to again power away from his rivals. However, Viviani had different plans and with apparent ease, he passed the Brit to take the win with a big margin. Sbaragli finished off the great teamwork from MTN-Qhubeka by taking third.


Rein Taaramae had a hard day in the saddle as a dangerous breakaway with Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural) forced his team on the defensive all day. With the assistance from the sprint teams, his Cofidis team managed to control the situation and also responded to dangerous late attacks by GC contenders Merhawi Kudus (MTN-Qhubeka), Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol), Kevin Seeldraeyers (Wanty) and Rebellin.


Taaramae finished safely in the bunch and so he heads into tomorrow's sixth stage with a 6-second advantage over Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE). He faces his final big test as the stage has two big climbs in the finale. The final one leads directly to the finish in Selcuk and with just two sprint stages in the weekend, it is likely to shape the final overall classification.


A lumpy stage

The Tour of Turkey continued with a very lumpy fifth stage that brought the riders over 183km from Marmaris to Turgutreis. Right from the beginning, the riders went up a climb and there was an even bigger ascent at the 36km mark. From there, the terrain was rolling until a long descent brought them back to sea level. However, there were a lot of rolling hills inside the final 20km that could be used as the launch pad for attacks.


After yesterday's rainy stage, the riders again headed out for their ride under a cloudy sky and a few raindrops soon started to fall. However, the conditions were far less treacherous than yesterday as all the remaining rider took on the stage from Finike to Turgutreis.


The break is formed

The stage has been won by a breakaway in the past and so one would have suggested that a lot of rider would be keen on going on the attack. However, it didn't take a long time for the day's break to form as 9 riders took form already after 7km of racing on the day's first climb.


Marc De Maar (Unitedhealthcare), Mirko Tedeschi, Mattia Pozzo (Neri Sottoli), Nicola Boem (Bardiani), Dennis Van Niekerk (MTN Qhubeka), Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural), Lachlan Norris (Drapac), Nico Sijmens (Wanty) and Matthias Krizek (Cannondale) were allowed to escape and at the top of the climb, De Maar beat Sijmens and Tedeschi in the battle for the KOM points.


OPQS and Cofidis lead the chase

The nine riders had to fight a bit to get a gap but at the 15km mark, they were already 2 minutes ahead. It reached 3 minutes before two OPQS and two Cofidis riders started to control the situation, keeping the gap stable for a little while.


On the day's second climb, De Maar was again the fastest as he beat Krizek, Boem and Norris in the battle for the points and so he took over the lead from Rein Taaramae in the mountains classification. The peloton went slow up the climb and so the gap went up to 4.20 where Cofidis and OPQS again stabilized it.


More teams start to chase

There was no battle for the points in the intermediate sprint as Boem led Van Niekerk and Sijmens across the line but the peloton had now accelerated and brought the gap down to 3.15.


With 75km to go, it was down to 2.30 as Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Cofidis had now got some assistance from Katusha that wanted to set up Marco Haller for the sprint, and Orica-GreenEDGE that saw Ferrari as an obvious threat to Adam Yates' GC campaign. For a long time, Kevin De Weert (OPQS), Mitchell Docker (Orica), Luca Paolini (Katusha) and the Cofidis pair of Louis Verhelst and Jeremy Bescond swapped turns on the front to keep the gap stable between 2.00 and 2.30.


The gap comes down

Those five riders had to ride pretty hard as the escapees were working excellently together and after having seen the gap come down to 2.00, they dug a bit deeper to bring it back up to 2.30. Meanwhile, the Cofidis and OPQS were excellently positioned near the front as they prepared themselves for the finale.


Inside the final 35km, OPQS were forced to add more firepower to the chase when Petr Vakoc joined the team of chasers. Meanwhile, Bescond and Verhelst had used their last bit of energy and so it was now Christophe Le Mevel doing the work for Cofidis.


The break splits up

The advantage was now melting away and when it reached 55 seconds, Boem attacked on a small climb. Pozzo closed it down easily but Tedecchi and De Maar fell off the pace. Sijmens countered the move but again Pozzo stayed attentive and over the top it was Krizek who took a big turn to bring the break back into a cooperative mood.


While the two chasers were quickly caught and Docker finished his work in the peloton, the escapees reopened the gap to 1.05. Up ahead, Pozzo was allowed to cross the line in the Turkish Beauty Sprint in first position (ahead of Sijmens and Van Niekerk) to virtually seal the win in that special competition.


Keisse does a huge job

With 17km to go, OPQS decided that they now wanted to bring the break back and so Iljo Keisse, Vakoc and De Weert hit the front with the rest of their teammates on their wheel. De Weert quickly fell off and as Vakoc also exploded, it was all left to Keisse.


The Belgian did a hard work but he had a hard time bringing down the gap. For a long time it stayed stable at around 40 seconds but when Boem took such a hard turn on a climb that he put his companions on the limit, the cooperation was destroyed and the gap went down to 10 seconds.


Hansen attacks

Unintentionally, Krizek got a small gap but Boem accelerated to close it down with Van Niekerk and Ferrari on his wheel. Norris and Sijmens struggled while Pozzo rode hard to bridge across to the leaders. Krizek paid the price for his attack as he also fell behind.


On that climb, Hansen launched an attack from the peloton but Astana were quick to react and they brought it back. Meanwhile, Hansen's teammate, last year's winner of the stage André Greipel, got dropped.


The break is caught

Astana caught all the remaining escapees but the attacks kept flying. A Caja Rural rider and Reguigui got a gap on a climb while Gianni Meersman was not chasing hard for OPQS.


The Bardiani rider fell off the pace but Reguigui stayed away a little longer. When Cofidis took control, however, he was caught.


Kudus with a dangerous move

Instead Mirac Kal (Torku) and Marco Canola (Bardiani) took off and they were joined by Kudus. Behind Seeldrayers and Linus Gerdemann (MTN) were both part of a 5-rider chase group while Cofisia and OPQS combined forces in the chase.


The chase group was quickly caught and had turns by Meersman and Steegmans brought the Kudus group back just 6km from the line. Caja Rural now took control with Aramendia who led three of his teammates as he set a hard pace on a climb.


Rebellin gives it a try

Meersman went back to work as the OPQS and Belkin trains battled for position on the front but the Dutch team completely exploded when they hit the final climb inside the final three kilometres. Steegmans was now riding hard on the front but when Cameron Wurf (Cannondale) and Rebellin attacked, Petacchi had to take over.


The Italian brought them back at the top and got a bit of assistance from Wurf on the descent. Under the flamme rouge, Petacchi was back in control and when Renshaw launched his lead-out, it seemed to be another splendid win for OPQS. However, Viviani had different plans and the Italian denied Cavendish his fourth win in the race.



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