Tour of Turkey in doubt as WorldTour teams shy away

Lack of interest among top teams could force cancellation in first year on WorldTour

With only one WorldTour team currently committed to The Presidential Tour of Turkey, the April 18-23 race could face cancellation in its first year on the UCI's premier calendar.

The Turkish DHA news agency reported today that organisers traveled to Luxembourg for the recent cyclo-cross world championships and asked the UCI to move the race to October or November. That request was denied, however, according to the DHA report, because of conflicts with other races on the calendar. 

The Tour of Turkey is one of 11 races added to the WorldTour for 2017, and although changes introduced in January require the new events to maintain 10 WorldTour teams on the start line, participation by the teams in the new WorldTour races is entirely voluntary. Moreover, races that cannot attract at least 10 WorldTour teams are subject to being removed from the WorldTour calendar.

The race in Turkey finds itself in a crowded position on the calendar, starting two days after Amstel Gold Race and runs concurrent with La Flèche Wallonne on April 19 and Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 23. Tour of Romandie begins April 25. The UCI's new rules also remove incentives for WorldTour teams to compete in the new races by basing the team rankings that are used to determine WorldTour registration for the next season only on events which were on the WorldTour in 2016.

Aside from the crowded field of competing races, war in Syria, recent terrorist attacks and the failed coup attempt in 2016 have given rise to security concerns among some teams. DHA also reported that the race organisers entered negotiations with the teams late because of delays in finalizing the route.

The Tour of Turkey was first on the UCI calendar in 2005 as a 2.2 race and then reappeared in 2008 with a 2.1 ranking. It has been a 2.HC race since 2010, the year Giovanni Visconti won ahead of Tejay van Garderen. There were only two WorldTour teams in last year's race, with Lampre-Merida and Lotto Soudal competing against a host of Pro Continental and Continental teams. José Gonçalves, riding for Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, won the overall and signed with Katusha-Alpecin for this year.

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