Philipsen hones his sprint in Turkey with Tour de France in mind

ZMIRKARIYAKA TURKEY APRIL 12 Jasper Philipsen of Belgium and Team AlpecinFenix Green Sprint Jersey celebrates at finish line as stage winner and new leader after the 57th Presidential Cycling Tour Of Turkey 2021 Stage 3 a 1179km stage from eme to zmir Karyaka TUR2022 on April 12 2022 in emezmir Karyaka Turkey Photo by Dario BelingheriGetty Images
Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) in the green sprint Jersey celebrates stage 3 victory at Tour of Turkey (Image credit: Dario Belingheri/Getty Images)

Jasper Philipsen started his 2022 season on the right foot with a win from day one at the UAE Tour in February, and followed with a second victory four days later. But he had to wait for one-and-a-half months to find success again and it happened at the Presidential Tour of Turkey. 

In his debut last season at the Tour of Turkey, the Alpecin-Fenix sprinter scored two victories and the points classification even though Mark Cavendish (QuickStep) had crossed the line first on four occasions.

"At the beginning of the year, it wasn't the plan initially to come back to Turkey," Philipsen told Cyclingnews in Izmir, "but after a lot of classics, I decided to close my Classics period because I wanted to have some sprints in the legs again as it had been a while. Here in Turkey, I knew I'd have some chances to get victories, and it's good that we can do two or three sprints to finally come up with a win."

The fast man from Mol has been touted as the new Tom Boonen because he comes from the same town and has similar characteristics. He rode aggressively in the Flemish classics and took eighth place in the Scheldeprijs as his best result in a race he won last year. He loves Paris-Roubaix, too, but chose to give it a miss to return to Turkey.

"There aren't so many races on the calendar that feature five to seven potential bunch sprints in one week," Philipsen continued. "Even flattish days at Paris-Nice are more like classics. That's why the Tour of Turkey is good for us, for the sprinters. That's why I like this race. I discovered it last year. I like to come back here to do the sprints and aim for the victories."

He started with two second places behind Australians Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) and Kaden Groves (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) but eventually beat them all in Izmir on stage 3.

"Maybe I was missing a little bit of freshness after the tough classics to have my best sprint. As we are doing more and more sprints, it will get better. I will get back the speed. It's good for the confidence that I could win today.

"I think I'm generally stronger than last year. My sprint is more or less the same but my engine gets better. I do better and better in the Classics every year but it's really hard to fight for the win in those tough races. The competition is very high. I'll keep trying to win a classic every year."

After Turkey, he's bound for a title defence at Eschborn-Frankfurt on May 1, a WorldTour race he claimed last year in the middle of a winning streak that also included GP Denain and Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen in September. The Baloise Belgium Tour is an option as a preparation stage race for the Belgian championship and the Tour de France.

"Last year I was six times on the podium at the Tour de France," he concluded without pointing out his frustrating second place on the Champs-Élysées in particular. "It'll be the big goal this season to have a win there. We still have some time until the beginning of July."

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