Theo Bos scored a meaningful victory at the end of stage 1 in the 48th Presidential Tour of Turkey. As the event is being held this year in the opposite direction as previous editions, from Alanya to Istanbul, the Dutchman's success took place in the same town where a dramatic crash happened in the final sprint three years ago. Following that incident, he was suspended by the UCI for one month because of he allegedly tarnished the image of cycling. Ironically, this time Bos outsprinted Matt Goss who is now a teammate of that crash's victim - and overall winner - in 2009, South Africa's Daryl Impey.
"I didn't know we were at the same place," said Bos. "I just found out. For me, it's just another bike race. This case was closed a long time ago. To win here doesn't give me any extra feeling or a different feeling. For us, as a team, we only learnt at the last moment that we could come to Turkey [as a replacement for RusVelo]."
"Normally I would go to Romandie to prepare for the Giro d'Italia, but as a sprinter, my climbing skills are not that good. Here, I can prepare physically for the Giro but it's also an important race to work on our sprinting. At Rabobank, we didn't have a great culture in sprinting but it's changing now, and the Tour of Turkey gives us a great opportunity to make a step up again."
Bos noted the recruitment of Thor Hushovd and Mark Cavendish's former lead-out man, Mark Renshaw. "Today we decided that it was a good race for me, with no big climbs or anything," said Bos. "It was a good opportunity for me to work the sprint out. Mark will also have his chance and we'll try a 100 percent for him. Today, I had Mark and Graeme [Brown] in front of me, two former pursuit world record holders who won a lot of things on the road. Every day I learnt a lot from them. With Mark joining us this season, with the knowledge he has, we made a big step forward as a team. Our next goal is to get him in a good position for winning." Renshaw has yet to win a race for Rabobank.
The younger riders lined up for Rabobank in Turkey were all sprinters in the making as well. Coen Vermeltfoort (in 2008), Dennis van Winden (2009) and Jetse Bol (2010 and 2011) all sprinted to wins in the past four opening stages of the 2.2-ranked Tour de Bretagne for Rabobank Continental.
A true gentleman when he talks about his sport, Bos didn't talk more about his ambitions for the near future as he remains humble about his adaptation to road racing since the Beijing Olympics. "I've won today against a lot of top sprinters, but I can't say that I'll do the same at the Giro because I don't know how they and their team will race once we're on the road in two weeks time."
"Here in Turkey, I'll first try to finish the race. By winning today in such a quality field of sprinters, I've made a step up as a cyclist, but I'm not a complete rider on the road yet. I have to become more of an all-rounder and more solid. I don't know if the Giro will be harder or less hard than what I experience here."
Talking about his Australian teammates, who also come from the track, but have an endurance background, Bos looked back at the Athens Olympics eight years ago, when he was a silver medalist in sprinting events while Brown won the team pursuit. Bos considered returning to the velodrome for an attempt at the individual pursuit now that his physique has changed, but it proved to be a moot idea once the UCI took the event out of the Olympic program.
"The road race could be my way to take part in the London Olympics as well," said Bos to Cyclingnews in Alanya. "But it's going to be a hard race. I've been there. I've seen the course. It's probably too difficult for me to be in the final sprint."
Time will tell more about the track-to-road conversion progress of Bos in the Giro in a few weeks.