Following a series of four Australian successes at the Tour of Turkey, New Zealander Patrick Bevin turned the overall classification upside down as he managed to dethrone Argentina’s Eduardo Sepúlveda on the eve of the grand finale to Taksim Square in Istanbul.
The Israel-Premier Tech rider escaped with Australia’s Jay Vine (Alpecin-Fenix) and France’s Nicolas Edet (Arkéa-Samsic), taking the stage win from that break as well as the strong grip on the overall. Former Tour of Turkey leader Sepúlveda (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli) finished with the next group, 41 seconds back and as a result he slipped to third place overall, with Vine's efforts in the break moving him into second place, 20 seconds back from Bevin.
“We had a plan this morning to attack that last climb,” Bevin told Cyclingnews after winning stage 7 in Terkidag. “You have to believe that you can pull it off. It’s been incredibly hard this race. The level of the field is quite high. We got a group away on that last climb.
“I just didn’t worry too much about the stage. For the most part, it was about getting time for the general classification, then the stage came up in the last kilometre. Obviously, the other guys didn’t want to take it to a sprint, and I opened up, it fell on my arms a little bit in the final 500 metres.”
Bevin powered away from his break companions to take the long-awaited stage victory by two seconds. He had come second on the queen stage on stage 4, a surprise to many given that he had hardly raced this year, but nevertheless he appeared very disappointed to miss out on the win at Spil national park.
“I’ve got a lot of second places,” Bevin explained. “I felt like mopping up the sprint at the top of a climb but there was a guy up the road and it was pretty disappointing. I had ridden well.
"I don’t have many wins [seven in his pro career]. Being an all-rounder, it’s kind of hard to make them fall into your kind of race. I was disappointed because I knew it would be really hard to take any time back on GC. So yeah, I was disappointed after what was a very climbing performance. But yesterday and today we tried to do something."
Bevin’s last victory was three seasons back, on stage 2 of the 2019 Santos Tour Down Under.
“I broke my collarbone on Tour de La Provence, in February this year, on the first race day of the year after a really good off-season,” he said. “After COVID, my partner and I hadn’t been home for a couple of years, but finally we managed to go to New Zealand this time.
"I trained really well during the off-season, came back to Europe, trained really well so it was kind of tough to sit out for the first few weeks of the season but on the flip side of that I stayed motivated to make sure that when I’d come back, I would be really strong and turn into results that off-season training.”
Bevin had been slowly shifting closer to the top spot since he moved into second place on stage 4, taking a second or two each stage up until his move in the break. He had narrowed that gap to 11 seconds to Sepulveda after finishing fourth on stage 6, which had special significance to the rider from New Zealand due to its proximity to the Gallipoli Peninsula where so many ANZAC soldiers lost their lives during World War I.
“Globally, it’s been a really cool experience to race in Gallipoli. It is important to the New Zealanders and Australians," said Bevin of the stage which was won by Australian rider Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal). "Finishing on a hill above ANZAC Coves was really special. We don’t have many opportunities in cycling to have a connection with home at a race in Europe.
"No matter where I go in the sport, it’s a stage I won’t forget, despite the result not being a win. It was a really enjoyable day. I didn’t have any time to visit the cemeteries but it’s something I’ll do later in my life. Especially because of the win today, I’ll come back.
“I feel like the Aussies have taken a lot away from this race so it’s nice to pull one back for Kiwis. It’s about 4-1 [stage wins] now, it’s a little bit of a battle, but there’s another stage tomorrow. It could be a tricky day around Istanbul, so we have to make sure we finish off what’s been a great week and take the win for the guys and the team.
"It’s been really amazing. We came here as a sprint team, and I was a bit of a joker at how the GC would go. We have big engines and we turned it out as a GC team and the guys have been really good. It’s been a really cool experience for this team.”
Israel-Premier Tech is not in a favourable situation with regards to retaining its WorldTour licence for next year, but Bevin hopes this win in Turkey will mark a turning point for the team.
“The start of the season has been tough for a number of teams and tough for our team with illnesses and injuries,” he said. “This is better than what the results show. We believe we can keep chipping away and work through the bad times. This team has enough class and enough good riders make sure we can score some points as the season rolls on.”
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