Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida) overcame a scare on the eve of the final stage of the Tour of Turkey as illness almost derailed his general classification victory. The Croatian held the leader’s turquoise jersey going into the final stage, where he was never likely to lose time, but came down with a fever on Saturday night.
"I was really bad," he admitted after completing the race. "I had a temperature of 38, a bad stomach, everything. I didn’t even know if I would start today or not, but in the morning I said to myself I have to try. It was a hard day for me, but I succeeded."
It is the 27-year-old’s second victory in Lampre colours, the first coming at Tre Valli Varesine in 2013. He doesn’t consider it to be a bigger achievement than that one-day triumph, nor does he feel it will be a transformative one.
"It means a lot," he said. "I knew that I was going well but it’s difficult to say before the race that I would win because you never know. For sure, I came here for victory, like a lot of races, but this time I succeeded.
"It doesn’t change a lot. The team knew beforehand my characteristics so I have some races where I need to help my teammates and for sure I have races like this where I can go for my results. So it doesn’t change a lot – maybe a little bit but not a lot."
If he seems subdued in the aftermath of a big success it’s because he has a naturally subdued personality. "I’m always calm," he says. "Even in a race it’s like that – always with a cold head, always easy."
The plan was for Durasek to ride the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour de France and, although that will probably be respected, he may receive a call-up to the Giro d’Italia depending on the fitness of his teammates. Looking ahead, he has even loftier ambitions than this victory in Turkey.
"I have said before, I want to win a stage in a Grand Tour – it would be a dream come true. Or one big Classic – one of those would be very nice."