By Jean-François Quénet in Alanya, Turkey
Danilo Hondo has seen a huge change in the Tour of Turkey compared to the stage race he won as an amateur back in 1996. Newly promoted to a UCI 2.1 event, the race has been boosted by government support and the President of the republic, Abdullah Gül, who attended the last stage in his home town of Alanya on the Mediterranean coast.
"I've enjoyed the places where we've been," the German sprinter from Serramenti PVC-Diquigiovanni commented in Antalya prior to start the final stage. "The good organization and the great weather have made me appreciate the journey. I think this race has a future, should Turkey get better surfaces for the roads."
Turkish roads are not especially bad, but Alessandro Petacchi also mentioned that their surface was very demanding for the riders. "My regret here is the finale of Stage 2 when there was some chaos with a few cars. Otherwise, I would have won that day, I think," Hondo suggested. The organisation of the Tour of Turkey was prompt to correct the imperfections of the finish in Bodrum and the rest of the race passed without further safety concerns, but Hondo never got another opportunity to win a stage, which was his goal prior to the race.
He was again victim of a crash very close to the finishing line on the last day in Alanya. In a similar situation to Stage 7 of Le Tour de Langkawi, the German was sandwiched between two other sprinters who behaved dangerously. The crash itself was spectacular, but fortunately for Hondo no fracture was reported and he should be able to maintain his desired racing program. He'll take part in several one-day races in Italy before starting the Giro d'Italia in Palermo on May 10.
"The Giro d'Italia is my main goal this year," he said. "I think I've done solid work here in Turkey in my preparation for the Giro." Best known for its climbers from South America, the Venezuelan registered team Serramenti PVC-Diquigiovanni will be fighting for stage wins and the pink jersey in three weeks' time.