André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) is back in Istanbul for his seventh straight participation to the Presidential Tour of Turkey. He has won ten stages so far, making him the record holder of successes in the modern history of the event that was born in 1963 but opened to top professionals in 2008.
“I like to come back to Turkey," Greipel told Cyclingnews in Istanbul on the eve of the 52nd edition (April 24-May 1st). “I was in doubt this year like everybody [after suicide bombs hit Istanbul and Ankara in the past few months]. Security for teams and riders was our concern but nowhere is safety guaranteed at a cycling race so we just hope we’ll be safe. The organization has always been good here. We get the opportunity to race in a friendly atmosphere. It’s a good preparation for the upcoming races, starting with the Giro d’Italia, and for sure I’m going to try and win a stage or more.”
Several Pro Teams have opted for different programs but Lampre-Merida and Southeast-Venezuela are expected to set up bunch sprints for Sacha Modolo and Jakub Mareczko respectively along with Lotto-Soudal.
“There aren’t too many sprinters this year," Greipel noted, “but the start list includes new names and new teams so I expect young sprinters to show what they’re capable of. There’s TV coverage and international media exposure for ambitious riders to make a career out of the Tour of Turkey.”
Following an injury-marred early season with a fractured rib in stage 4 of the Volta o Algarve in February, the German sprinter rode the Flemish classics at the service of his best friend Marcel Sieberg, who is usually one of his lead-out men. Sieberg rode an excellent Paris-Roubaix and finished seventh.
“I’m super happy for him," Greipel commented. “I always knew this race suited him but he had to wait for riding as a captain. He took his chance after the crash at km 140 and stayed at the front. For me, the classics are a way to give something back to my teammates but I was injured so I got dropped in the crosswinds at Gent-Wevelgem and again in the first day of the Three Days of De Panne after 100km.
"I did my best for the team at the Tour of Flanders. I just like the classics because I’m passionate about cycling. The history of our sport tells us that we have to ride the classics and I still dream of a good result. That’s the way I am as a rider and Mathew Hayman’s win in Paris-Roubaix shows that ageing isn’t a problem because the experience is already a big advantage.”
With a first time in Kapodokya for stage 2 – a difficult one – and a different field with continental teams in contention, the Presidential Tour of Turkey looks like something new to Greipel but his whole season is made of diversity with the world championship made for sprinters on October 16 in Doha, Qatar. The TUR sets a new start for him with the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France in sight.