With the 54th Presidential Tour of Turkey set to start Tuesday in Konya, Central Anatolia, the riders and teams gathered on stage Monday evening for the annual team presentation, where the race honoured Jimmy Duquennoy, who sadly passed away on Friday at the age of 23, and his WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic team dedicated a moment of silence to his memory.
The Tour of Turkey, the penultimate stage race on the 2018 WorldTour calendar, appears to be back on solid footing with nine top-tier teams in attendance after a low of only four last year. This year's WorldTour teams are Astana, Bahrain-Merida, BMC Racing, Bora-Hansgrohe, Katusha-Alpecin, Quick-Step Floors, Team Sunweb, Trek-Segafredo and UAE Team Emirates.
Some of the star attractions on the line include Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) and Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe), who are set to face off repeatedly in a race with numerous bunch finishes. John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) is another big name confirmed on the start list, while Edward Theuns (Team Sunweb) and Simone Consonni (UAE Team Emirates) should be hunting stage wins.
Other names to watch include 2017 overall winner Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), Patrick Bevin (BMC Racing), Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgohe) and Nathan Haas (Katusha-Alpecin).
"Last year’s victory was very important for me," Ulissi said Monday during the presentation. "It is a WorldTour race so everyone is working hard to compete at the highest level possible.
"My main ambition, of course, is to win again this year. I know it will not be easy. There are really good riders here, but I will do my best. I’m in good shape and I hope to be at 100 per cent for the uphill finish. I know that day will be crucial for the general classification."
Ulissi was speaking of the Stage 4 summit finish on Friday.
"The Selçuk finish is not that long, but it’s very very hard especially in the last 3km with high gradients, and it will be crucial to handle fatigue and strengths," said the 2017 winner.
Click or swipe through the gallery above for a look at Monday's team presentation.