By Jean-François Quénet
While cycling in the sport's traditional European countries has been complicated this year by political battles, there are big ambitions for the sport in new areas of development. The Presidential Tour of Turkey is one race which has gained more attention with an upgrade to the 2.1 category, luring five ProTour teams for its 44th edition from April 13 to 20. The event was won last year by Bulgarian Ivailo Gabrovski when it was still a 2.2 race.
The Tour of Turkey will feature 25 teams, among them five ProTour teams: Milram, Lampre, Saunier Duval, Silence-Lotto and Astana. The Kazakh team is expected to line up Andreas Klöden, Vladimir Gusev and Tomas Vaitkus. The biggest name on the start list should be Alessandro Petacchi who used to take part – and win most of the stages – in the Niedersachsen Rundfahrt but the historical German race is cancelled this year due to a lack of funds.
The Presidential Tour of Turkey will start on the same day as Paris-Roubaix with a 79km criterium in Istanbul. The riders will then fly to Izmir and ride along the Mediterranean coastal side to Alanya. An extremely scenic route will welcome to the stars of cycling.
ProTour Teams: Milram (Ger), Lampre (Ita), Saunier Duval (Spa), Silence-Lotto (Bel), Astana (Lux)
Professional Continental teams: Benfica (Por), Karpin-Galicia (Spa), Mitsubishi-Jartazi (Est), Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni (Ven), CSF Group-Navigare (Ita), NGC Medical (Swi), PSK Whirlpool (Cze)
Continental teams: Bourgas (Bul), Team Ista (Ger), Cosmote Kastro (Gre), Atlas-Römers (Swi), Liberty Seguros (Por), Tyrol-Team Radland (Aut), Sparta Praha (Cze), Partizan (Ser), Stegcomputer-CKT (Swi); 4 national teams: Netherlands, Ireland, Turkey, Brisa
April 13: Criterium Istanbul, 79.2km.
April 14: Izmir-Kusadasi, 132.7km
April 15: Kusadasi-Bodrum, 165.9km
April 16: Bodrum-Marmaris, 166.8km
April 17: Marmaris-Oludeniz, 177.7km
April 18: Kalkan-Finike, 100.1km
April 19: Finike-Antalya, 115.8km
April 20: Antalya-Alanya, 136.6km