Whoever has watched the Presidential Tour of Turkey on TV can't have missed the lanky powerful rider from Europcar who has spent hours at the front escorting the revelation of the week Natnael Berhane. The Eritrean has seduced the observers even though he eventually surrendered the race lead to unexpected Turkish rider Mustafa Sayar, but he owes a lot to Björn Thurau and mentioned it in every interview.
On stage 5, Thurau was the only Europcar rider in the 70-man front group with Berhane while all the French were at the back. "I like my job as a domestique, but to do it alone for a whole stage was pretty difficult," the German told Cyclingnews. "I have the legs for doing it but it's been a difficult situation."
People wondered why he even continued pulling instead of giving way to the sprinters' teammates while approaching the last ten kilometers when he had already closed the gap to the lone leader Maxim Belkov of Katusha. "In the absence of ear pieces, the latest time gap I got was 3.20 and I knew this rider was two minutes down on GC. At some stage, I gave way to the sprinters but the rhythm slowed down so I got scared and I preferred to pull again."
In his second year with Europcar, the 24-year-old seems to have improved a lot. "I've done all the Spring classics," he said. "It has definitely made me stronger to race at this level. The beginning of my pro career [with Atlas-Römer's at the age of 18] was also good but I just had no chance to ride big races. Every year, step by step, I reach another level. I'm pleased with my progress."
Thurau retains three performances that made him appreciate his current status at Europcar. "I enjoyed my ride in the second group behind Thomas [Voeckler] at Dwars Door Vlaanderen," he noted. "In Paris-Roubaix, I had good legs and I did a good job for [fifth placed] Damien [Gaudin]. Riding at the front in stage 3 of the Tour of Turkey until the last climb also gave me great feelings and I was still really strong the day after defending the leader's jersey."
"I'm looking forward to see what's the next step in my career," added Thurau who has the Tour de Picardie, the Bayern Rundfahrt and the Dauphiné on his agenda. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the son of the 1979 Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner in the line-up of Europcar at the service of Pierre Rolland and Thomas Voeckler at the Tour de France in July. "That'll be decided by the directeurs sportifs after the Dauphiné, I guess," Thurau predicted. "I don't know when I'll get the chance to ride the Tour, I'm still young, but my focus is first on next year's Classics, the Tour of Flanders and especially Paris-Roubaix that I fell in love with. I like this race. My future is there."
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