Stars set to do battle as final stages get underway
A busy Sunday afternoon in Europe will see the Tour of Turkey and the Tour de Romandie reach their conclusions in very different circumstances but with excitement guaranteed for fans at both races.
With two consecutive stage victories, Spain's Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) has snatched the yellow jersey from pre-race favourite Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) at the Tour de Romandie and enjoys a nine-second lead over the Briton going into this afternoon's final stage 16.5km time trial in the exclusive Alpine ski resort of Crans-Montana.
Both men are excellent time trialists, with five national championships between them, and it likely to be a titanic tussle between them as they battle for supremacy in the WorldTour event. Much will depend on the weather. Wet roads would make it even more diffcult for Wiggins to bridge the gap than it does on paper, but early signs are that the damp weather of the last few days has cleared up and that the roads are looking dry. Wiggins is set to start at 16:16 CET, two minutes before Sanchez closes out proceedings. Team Sky's Michael Rogers lies in third place, sixteen seconds behind the leader, so barring mishaps it looks like a straight fight between the top two.
Earlier in the day, and some 1100 miles to the south east of the continent, the Tour of Turkey finishes in the iconic city of Istanbul. The event continues to go from strength to strength and with a first ever mountain finish (stage 3) and more fans lining the roads than ever before, this year's staging has been one of the best in the race's history.
Local fans have had much to cheer. Yesterday's stage 7 was one of the most exciting of the season, with Iljo Keisse surviving a tumble just 500m from the finish before getting up off the tarmac and hanging on grimly for a courageous win. They have also been galvanised by the form of Ivaïlo Gabrovski. The Bulgarian has led for most of the week in the colours of local Turkish team Konya Torku Seker Spor and with a 93-second lead heading into the last 124km stage he will be tough to catch.