A day after the centenary of the Battle of Gallipoli is commemorated 1,000 kilometres to the north, the 51st Tour of Turkey gets underway in Alanya. With the top general classification riders occupied at the mountainous Tour of Romandie, the Tour of Turkey has attracted a long list of high quality sprinters from the six WorldTour teams who are down to race.
Mark Cavendish will start as favourite to bag more stage wins after his haul last year but in André Greipel (Lotto Soudal), Theo Bos (MTN-Qhubeka) and Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge), he will find several riders trying to block his avenue to success.
The race gets underway with a sprinter-friedly flat parcours in Alanya with the added bonus of the first leader’s jersey for the winner. Stage two is again a day out for the fast men with those who narrowly missed out the day before able to seek immediate redemption and try to unsettle Cavendish.
Stage three is the first day for the GC men with the summit finish on Emali and it is likely to prove decisive. The latter half of the 11.5km climb has shredded the peloton in previous visits with the last kilometre often forcing even more time gaps between the riders: the stage winner here will hold the upper hand for the GC battle.
Stage four offers a slight respite after the climbing efforts of the day before with the parcours suggesting it could be a day for the breakaway. Much will depend on which sprinter is on form and whether his team is strong enough to bring the race back together for a bunch gallop in Marmaris.
Stage five will be a day for the puncheurs with the finish in Pamukkale. The stage turns inward from the coast over lumpy terrain before descending and making its way up a category two climb onto a plateau. A category three climb follows, and from there it’s a fast, 20km run downhill to the finish in Pamukkale. The GC men will need to be attentive.
The penultimate stage to Selçuk features two sharp climbs in the final 25km of racing. The GC men will need to time their efforts on the final category one climb, which is the final chance to adjust the overall standings. The final stage of the race features two climbs, a category one and a category two, that is likely to finish in a sprint finish, albeit a reduced one. The second climb of the day could be used as a launch pad for riders desperate to steal the overall win but with almost 38km to the finish it would be a hard ask. Instead look to teams with punchy sprinters such as Orica-GreenEdge try to make it too hard for the likes of Cavendish and Greipel and set up victory.
2013 champion Natnael Berhane will be the only former winner to be racing this year as last year’s entire podium has decided to skip the race. There is no standout GC threat in this edition of the race but there are several riders who have the opportunity to show their characteristics in a protected role, just as Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) did so successfully last year. With recent editions of the race featuring numerous asterisks for doping positives, the organisers will be looking for a credible winner as there are several young riders who can rise to that challenge.
Berhane will face tough competition to join Ghader Mizbani (2002, 2006) and Mert Mutlu (2001, 2003) as two-time winners since the turn of the century but in MTN-Qhubeka, he will have a team capable of defending the overall lead. Berhane’s form has been inconsistent since his win here but as he is looking for a Tour de France berth, a strong ride here would go some way to securing his place for July.
Cameron Meyer already has one stage race victory to his name this year, the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, and the Australian has stated that one-week stage races are his aim for this season. Orica-GreenEdge proved last year it can defend the overall. Meyer finished 5th here in the past and will aim to replicate Yates’ success from last year. While they will be looking to Ewan for stage wins, Orica-GreenEdge have proven themselves capable of successfully pursuing dual ambitions on numerous occasions.
Astana’s Tour de l’Avenir champion Miguel Angel Lopez remains a raw talent. The Colombian has been suffering from knee pain but is an outside chance for a high overall position. Astana will also have Valerio Agnoli to call upon and the veteran Italian has shown himself to be climbing well in 2015 but doing so consistently with the pressure of leadership is another task.
Bretagne - Séché Environnement will have two riders in Eduardo Sepúlveda and Brice Feillu who are capable of challenging for the podium or at the very least, stage wins. Tinkoff-Saxo’s Colombian climber Edward Beltran is another rider who should thrive on the ascents and will possibly be a top-10 finisher.
Lotto Soudal will be looking to last year’s ninth place overall Adam Hansen and also breakaway specialist Thomas De Gendt to impress on the GC, and both riders are capable of rising to the task.
Drapac’s Sam Spokes is a young aggressive rider with stage race success on his under-23 palmarès. He and his Drapac teammates will want to make a mark on the race although stage wins look more of a certainty than a top five. Lampre-Merida’s Kristijan Durasek is another potential top 10 finisher after his seventh place last year.
Finally, despite the open and youthful overall contenders, 43-year-old Davide Rebellin looms as an outside chance after his recent showing at the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, where he finished fourth overall.