Lotto Soudal refuse to return to Tour of Turkey due to political climate

New WorldTour race fails to attract top teams

The Presidential Tour of Turkey has struggled to attract top teams to this year's edition of the race, one of the new additions to the WorldTour calendar this season. The event needs to attract at least 10 of the top teams to keep its place on the calendar, but so far it has only one.

Lotto Soudal – who last year were one of only two WorldTour squads at the race along with Lampre-Merida – won't be that team.

Manager Marc Sergeant admitted that Lotto Soudal were nervous about racing last year because of the volatile political climate, and he attended the race in person to observe the situation.

"There were no incidents last year, and there was a lot of attention to safety," he said to Het Nieuwsblad. "Every hundred metres you saw an agent. But since then much has happened: new attacks, a coup attempt. I read that since then 10,000 people were arrested. To have all these reasons, we decided not to go this year."

Under UCI rules, participation of WorldTour teams is mandatory in the calendar's events, but these rules were modified this year to make racing in the new events voluntary. However, new races must maintain a minimum of 10 WorldTour teams or risk being tossed off the calendar.

The organisation appealed to the UCI to move to October, but Quick-Step Floors CEO Patrick Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad that a move wouldn't make a difference.

"In October, we did have Tour of Turkey on the schedule," Lefevere said. "But we asked the riders training during camp in December who wanted to race. Nobody, but nobody, was up for it."

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