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The 2013 Presidential Tour of Turkey was run and won last week with Turkish rider Mustafa Sayar (Torku Sekerspor) sealing the overall victory. Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) showed that he can mix it up with the likes of Andre Gripel winning three sprint finishes throughout the race. Japanese photographer and friend, Kei Tsuji, was in Turkey and brought back these magnificent photos from the 49th edition of the race.
The race was not without controversy though. Mustafa Sayar’s biggest career victory came about on stage 6 where he rode away from the peloton on the final 6km ascent to Selçuk to seize the overall lead.
Marcel Kittel took to Twitter to express his disappointment after stage 6:
I was not often in my life so angry about a result of someone else. And I see many people around me feeling the same. #TourofTurkey
— Marcel Kittel (@marcelkittel) April 26, 2013
Why is Sayar’s win clouded with suspicion? Well, contrary to Colombian Nairo Quintana’s (Movistar) rise to winning the Vuelta al Pais Vasco (watch the NBC commentator’s remarks about him coming out of nowhere), Sayar has not shown the same promising rise in the background. To his credit, he’s still only 24 and perhaps he’s just coming into his own. He’s won the Tour Of Isparta, came second at the Tour d’Algérie (2013), second at the Tour de Blida (2013) and second at the Tour Of Victory (2010) (all smaller UCI 2.2 races. Tour of Turkey is a UCI 2.HC, on par with Tour of California – read about UCI race classification codes).
Question marks arise when Sayar’s teammate, Ivailo Gabrovski, tested positive for EPO in the 2012 Tour of Turkey after riding clear of the field on Stage 3 and taking the overall win. Fairly or not, it’s Gabrovski’s association to Sayar’s team which casts a shadow.
If you want to read more about this, Alex Hinds (CyclingCentral) has a good piece on it here.
Regardless of the controversy, you can see the beauty of the Presidential Tour of Turkey brought to you by Kei Tsuji. Enjoy.