Runner up Jay Vine, who just moved to the pro ranks through the Zwift Academy, may quickly become a hot topic on the transfers market given his one-year contact with Alpecin-Fenix but the Tour of Turkey could also well be a springboard for overall winner José Manuel Diaz (Delko).
Three years ago his compatriot Eduard Prades won the race for Euskadi-Murias and then went on to sign with Movistar so Diaz entered the race with a clear picture of what a strong performance could do to help shape his career. That gave the 26-year-old rider one more reason to determinedly defend that one second lead on the overall so he could deliver his first GC victory.
“Today it was a pretty difficult stage with a lot of attacks," said the Andalusian from French outfit Delko in Kusadasi. "A breakaway of ten riders went up the road. My team-mate Delio Fernández was part of it so it was perfect for us. In the last climb, one rider from Caja Rural [Jhojan Garcia] who was fourth on GC attacked."
Delko continued the work on the front, along with the teams of the sprinters, and the break was drawn back in, with Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) taking the sprint in the eighth and final stage while Diaz safely held onto his slender overall margin.
"It’s really important for me to win the Tour of Turkey,” said Diaz. “My career started five years ago with Israel Cycling Academy. I’ve made it step by step. This year I’ve made one step forward. Not all riders are like Egan Bernal, who wins the Tour de France at the age of 21, but at the end we arrive too.”
“I knew I was coming to the Tour of Turkey with a good form,” he said, even though the win atop Gögübeli was a surprise for many. “I wanted to fight for the overall. I spoke with Prades [the 2018 winner and now his teammate at Delko] before coming. He told me it was a good race for me. He instructed me to take advantage of it. It can be a good path to the future.”
“Delko is already an important team in the pro world”, said the man from Jaén, where he usually trains with former Movistar rider Javier Moreno. “For now, I feel good here. If a better opportunity comes, well… but I’m happy with this team. I also wouldn’t mind to return to Spain one day and become a great gregario in the mountains. I think I’m made for that.”
In the second of his two-year contract with the Marseille-based squad, Diaz was a promising U23 as he won the prestigious Memorial Valenciaga in the Basque country ahead of Richard Carapaz in 2016. It earned him a pro contract with Israel Cycling Academy, then a Pro Continental team.
“I’ve kept great memories from this team”, he recalled. “They decided that we wouldn’t continue together but I’ve maintained a good relationship with everyone there. I moved on to Vorarlberg in Austria and now in France with Delko. I like to learn different cultures but inside the world of cycling it’s pretty similar in all the teams.”
Before the Tour of Turkey, his only pro win was stage 8 of the Tour of Rwanda in March last year. His results in mountainous stage races are pretty consistent.
“I hope to continue for the whole season on the same mode as at the Tour of Turkey,” he said. “Race programs rapidly change with the COVID situation but I feel ready for more successes like this one.”
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