Official start list and pre-race declarations by some of the favourites.

Merhaba! from the 51st Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey 2015, the annual 2.HC stage race, starting at the seaside town of Alanya and finishing, eight days later, with a stunning stage around one of the world’s great capitals, Istanbul.

Mark Cavendish (Etixx – Quick-Step) and André Greipel (Lotto – Soudal) head a world-class field of sprinters, while the climbing specialists with designs for the overall classification include the likes of the TUR 2013 champion Natnael Berhande Teweldemedhin and his MTN – Qhubeka team-mate Serge Pauwels, Tomasz Marczynski and Kevin Seeldraeyers (Torku Sekerspor), Eduardo Sepúlveda (Bretagne – Séché Environnement), Cameron Meyer (Orica – GreenEdge) and Carlos Quintero (Team Colombia).

Hereafter, declarations by some of the favourites, and details about Stage 1, Alanya – Alanya (145 km).


Natnael Berhane (MTN-Qhubeka): « I’ve already won one TUR with Europcar (in 2013), and I asked my new team, MTN-Qhubeka, if I could come back because I really like this race. The route suits me because it is hilly but not excessively so. I hope to repeat my success from two years ago, so I rode the Tour of Trentino in order to arrive in the best possible condition. and got into a long breakaway on Thursday. »

Carlos Quintero (Team Colombia): ‘Winning the mountains competition at Tirreno Adriatico, one of the hardest races in the world, was a very important result for me and for the team. But I must admit that February and March were pretty exhausting for me: I did 34 days of racing in two months so, after International Coppi and Bartali Week, I had five or six relaxed days in Colombia, recovering and getting my desire to be on the bike back. The last 10 days I trained at altitude in order to come into this race in good shape. We have a mixed team, with Edwin Ávila and Sebastián Molano for the sprints, and for the mountains, Edward Días, Alex Cano and me. The idea is to do a very good race. It’s time I took responsibility and accepted the challenge of riding for the General Classification.’

Eduardo Sepúlveda (Bretagne – Séché Environnement): ‘After my win at Sud Ardèche in February, I went to Andorra for altitude training, and then I rode Flèche Wallonne. It was my first race after three weeks, so I hope to go a bit better here, because at Flèche Wallonne I wasn’t great. [he finished 71st at 2m22s]. I’ve only seen the Tour of Turkey on the internet, and I know that there are two uphill finishes. But I’ve spoken to my coach, and we went over it so I know what the race consists of. We’ll also see what my team-mate Brice [Feillu] can do: I think he’s in good shape. And we also have riders for the sprints, like Hutarovich and McLay. I think that, with this team, we can make a good impression.’

Tomasz Marczynski (Torku Sekerspor): ‘I’m in good shape. Two weeks ago I won three stages and the General Classification at the Tour of Morocco. I felt very, very good there. Unfortunately I fell ill over the last two days there, so I had to rest for four days when I got home. But I needed to rest a bit anyway, and I have fully recovered. We reached Alanya a week before the start of the TUR, and I will take the start determined to do well. My team-mate Kevin Seeldrayers is also in good shape. If nothing unforeseen happens, we should both be up there, fighting for overall victory, although you also need some luck if you are going to win. I’ve ridden the race twice with CCC, in 2010, when I fell, and last year, when I was 13th, riding in the service of Davide Rebellin. This year, I’m riding for myself. I’ve based the whole of the first part of my season around this race. For my team, Torku, it is the equivalent of the Tour de France. And for all the teams, it is a fantastic opportunity to show themselves on Eurosport for 8 days.’

Valerio Agnoli (Astana) : ‘We were expecting to ride the TUR for our sprinter Andrea Guardini, but he is still recovering from his injuries at Scheldeprijs. That gives me more freedom to ride for the General Classification. I would like to make the most of the opportunity, but I have been riding hard since February (4th in the Clásica Almeria, 3rd in Stage 2 of the Volta ao Algarve, 2nd in Le Tour de Langkawi, 9th in Coppi & Bartali Week, and 8th & 9th in the first two stages of the Tour of the Basque Country) and it is hard to know what my form is. »

Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani-CSF): ‘In previous years, the team has sent me to Tour of Trentino, to prepare for the Giro (stage wins in 2013 & 2014). This time, they have decided to send me to Turkey, where I finished 7th overall in 2012. It is a race that suits me. I might have a say in the outcome, but given that it only ends 6 days before the the Giro d’Italia, if I’m going to contend for the turquoise jersey, it will depend on my position in the General Classification at the end of stage three.’

TOMORROW’S STAGE NOTES

Sunday 26 April: Stage 1 – Alanya – Alanya )145 km)


Signing in: 10.35 – 11.15 Eastern European Time (EET)
Stage start: 11.30

Alanya
A beach resort city and a district in the Province of Antalya, 166 kilometres from the provincial capital. 257,671 inhabitants, including about 10,000 European residents. On a small peninsula, beneath the Taurus Mountains, Alanya has been a stronghold for many Mediterranean empires, including the Ptolemaic, Seleucid, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman. Alanya was a major political centre in the Middle Ages, as part of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum, a medieval Turko-Persian, Sunni Muslim state in Anatolia from 1077 to 1307, with capitals first at İznik and then at Konya, ruled by Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad I (1188–1237), after whom the city is named. At its height, the sultanate stretched across central Anatolia, from the shoreline of Antalya and Alanya on the Mediterranean coast to the territory of Sinop on the Black Sea. In the east, the sultanate absorbed other Turkish states and reached Lake Van. Its westernmost limit was near Denizli and the gates of the Aegean basin. Many of the city’s landmarks, such as the Red Tower, the shipyard, and Alanya Castle, were erected during Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad I’s building campaign.
Alanya’s climate, beaches and heritage make it a major tourist attraction. The town is responsible for nine percent of Turkish tourism and thirty percent of foreign real estate purchases in Turkey. International tourism started in 1958, and has become the town’s dominant industry, boosting the population.

km 0 – Kızıl Kule (RED TOWER) (36° 32′ 11.44″ N, 31° 59′ 52.69″ E) The Kızıl Kule (Red Tower) is considered to be the symbol of the town of Alanya, and is depicted on the city’s flag. The sultan brought the accomplished architect Ebu Ali Reha from Aleppo, Syria to Alanya to build it, and construction was completed in 1226. The octagonal red brick tower protects the Tersane (shipyard) which dates from 1221. Most of the rest of Alanya castle was built in the 13th century.

km 0 – Alanya Castle (Alanya Kalesi) (36° 31′ 59.56″ N, 31° 59′ 26.74″ E) The castle is located 250 metres (820 ft) above the city on a rocky peninsula jutting into the Mediterranean Sea, which protects it from three sides. The wall which surrounds the castle is 6.5 kilometres (4.0 mi) long and includes 140 towers. 400 different water towers were built to serve the castle. In 2009, city officials filed to include Alanya Castle and Tersane as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They were named to the 2009 Tentative List. Aya Yorgi, located in the inner part of the castle, is a small Byzantine church built in 6th century. With its religious importance, it had become a prelacy. The church, with faded frescoes inside, dates back to times earlier than Seljuks and is being restored.

km 41.7 – 103.1 km to go – Seki: a 1.8 km walk from Seki lies Syedra (36° 26.748′ N, 32° 8.909′ E). Settled in the 7th century BCE, and abandoned in the 13th century CE, the town had a port at sea level and an upper town 400m above. The Roman historians Lucan and Florus both mention Syedra as where the Roman General Pompey held his last war council in 48 BCE, before his fatal voyage to Egypt. In 2011, archeologist excavating underwater dated relics of a port at Syedra to the Bronze Age, around 5,000 year ago.

The same road leads inland to the beautiful Sapadere Canyon (36° 30′ 25″ N, 32° 17′ 50″ E), 360m long and 400m high, created by took form by the water, wind and earth movements through hundreds of years. An environmentally-friendly wood and steel platform 350 m long was built for visitors to walk through the canyon. A beautiful bridge built by Romans in 800 BC still stands over Sapadere stream, giving access to Keci Kalesi (Goat Castle). The bridge is located on the Silk Road. Pines and oak trees are common, as are mulberry trees. Mulberry leaves are the only leaves that silkworms will eat which makes silk culture common in the region. The area is famous for handcrafted silk products, and in Sapadere Square there is an old but fully functioning watermill and tea shop that houses mechanical silk-weaving machines, of the type that replaced domestic hand-looms.

Outbound, the race route takes the inland road. It returns along the coast road passing IOTAPE (AYTAP).

km 80 – 65 km to go – IOTAPE (AYTAP): (36° 19′ 14″ N, 32° 14′ 6″ E). 30 km-33 km, east of Alanya – 9 km west of Gazipaşa – lies the historical port of Aytap. Athletes have been celebrated here since Roman times: in the old street of Aytap there are well preserve remains of Roman Baths, once adorned with sculptures whose inscriptions commemorate outstanding athletes and other local citizens. Founded around 52 AD by the King Antiochus IV of Commagene, who was of Armenian, Greek and Median descent, and named in honor of his late sister-wife, Iotapa, Queen of Commagene. Two adjacent bays create a natural harbor with a higher plateau for the town, which is thus protected from the sea. The natural port is 50–100 metres wide. The peninsula between the 2 bays is on a high hill. On the peninsula stand the ruins of an Acropolis, once surrounded by huge walls. with the Kingdom of Commagene, Iotapa was annexed by Emperor Vespasian in 72. From the reign of Trajan (98-117) until the reign of Valerian (253-260), coins were minted at Iotapa.

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