Australian Lotto Soudal rider Caleb Ewan won the 207-kilometre first stage of the 57th Presidential Cycling Tour of Türkiye on Sunday.
Ewan, a member of the Belgium-based team, finished in 4 hours, 38 minutes and 5 seconds to claim victory.
Jasper Philipsen of Belgian team Alpecin-Fenix came second and Kaden Groves of Australian BikeExchange-Jayco finished third, according to the provisional results.
“Today was a first success but there will be a lot of opportunities to come. We knew we had to be ahead in the last fast kilometers and we did it,” said Ewan.
“The guys did an amazing job of dropping me exactly where I needed to be. It gives me a lot of confidence,” he added.
Ewan said the climbing section of the route caused some difficulty, however, he came in hard on the last section of the stage and managed to climb to the top.
He found a winning mood almost a month after the end of his season due to illness, a week before the Milan-Sanremo cycling tour.
There were several accidents during the first stage, including a serious accident for Danny van der Tuuk of the Spanish team Equipo Kern Pharma, who had to be rushed to hospital.
A total of 167 riders from 25 teams took part in the first stage of what is the only intercontinental cycling competition in the world.
They traveled 207 kilometers (129 miles) from the Aegean tourist center of Bodrum in Muğla Province to the resort town of Kuşadası in neighboring Aydın Province, a scenic route through an area known for its rich history and fascinating natural beauty.
The opening day of the race witnessed fierce competition, according to a statement from the tour organization following the first day.
Halil Doğan, a Turkish rider for Bikeaid, was the first to attack with the cannon and five others joined him in the breakaway on Sunday, including Julen Irizar from Euskaltel, Jonathan Clarke from Wildlife Generation, Vitaliy Buts from Sakarya, Burak Abay of Spor Toto and Abram Stockman of Saris Rouvy.
As their advantage reached five minutes, the sprinter teams, mainly Alpecin-Fenix, Bora-Hansgrohe, BikeExchange-Jayco and Israel-Premier Tech organized themselves to maintain the time gap at around three minutes.
Subsequently, Lotto-Soudal picked up the tempo by approaching the 50 kilometer mark, where the deficit of the group of cyclists fell under one minute.
Running for both subsidiary classifications, Buts took the Treasures of Türkiye Sprints white jersey after coming first in the 87 kilometer sprint and took five points in the King of the Mountains competition before the regroup with 35 kilometers to go.
Arkea-Samsic took control of the peloton on the 4 kilometer climb, the summit of which was located 29 kilometers from the finish.
Thus, Nicolas Edet, winner of the Vuelta a Espana 2013 climbers’ classification, scored five KOMs, as did Goals, but the Frenchman was awarded the red jersey in favor of the highest ranked climb.
Lots of action also took place on the descent with Sean Bennett looking for glory in the 20 kilometers to go and some crashes occurring at the back of the reduced peloton.
The American from China Glory went 5 kilometers before the line. Israel-Premier Tech’s Patrick Bevin attempted to escape for the second time, but it was ultimately a massive sprint in the coastal town of Kuşadası.
Arkea-Samsic gave Nacer Bouhanni a nice lead, but it was Ewan who came out of the box at the right time to edge out Jasper Philipsen, one of the fallen runners, and Kaden Groves.
The runners ready for the 2nd stage
The second stage will start at 10:40 a.m. local time (0740 GMT) on Monday, along a 158.4-kilometer route between the ancient city of Ephesus and the Aegean coastal town of Alacati.
The eight-stage Tour of Turkey covers a total distance of 1,303 kilometers and will culminate in Istanbul on April 17.
Riders will change continents at three different locations – from Asia to Europe on day six, returning to the Asian side of Istanbul in later stages, then crossing the European side of the metropolis again.
Six WorldTour teams are in contention for the title this year, up from three the previous edition, along with 12 professional teams and seven continental teams.
The race is broadcast live on TRT Spor Yildiz and Eurosport, while Anadolu Agency is among the sponsors of the global event.