We returned to Turkey in April to face our biggest challenge yet – an 8 Stage Tour with some gruelling climbs and lightening fast sprints, against some of the biggest names in cycling.
The weather Gods were not on the organisers side however and Stage 1 was cancelled due to snow …. but before we had time to be disappointed, the Stage was rescued and relocated to the area of Konya, which was bitterly cold but not frozen.
It is a day our newest rider Kevin Kuhn won’t forget in a hurry as he was brought to the ground in the last kilometre during a furious bunch sprint.
Kevin was lucky to escape the ordeal with a few minor scratches and the rest of the team finished safely in the peloton.
Stage 2 again in Konya was ultimately another flat Sprinters stage with a few hills thrown in.
Szymon starred for us in the early breakaway and grabbed some intermediate sprint points as well!
It was great to see the Pinktrain race strongly together in the peleton as well – and thanks to the television broadcast we reached our biggest audience yet! For his efforts Szymon was rewarded with 11th place in GC.
Hijiri sprinted valiantly with the bunch and crossed the line in 23rd place!
The race headed towards the warmth of the coast on Stage 3 – it was a long day in the saddle and we had no real opportunity to break from the peloton. The team regrouped for Stage 4 but this time the mass sprint to the finish was marred by traumatic crashes on both sides of the bunch and unfortunately Hijiri was taken down! We had some scary moments watching him leave by ambulance but we were relieved by the news that he had sustained no serious injury!
Without Hijiri we were down to 6 riders on Stage 5, with a mountain top finish looming. The Pinktrain remained strong in the peloton, with Szymon and Jonathan best placed into the last two kilometres. It was an amazing effort just to finish this tough stage!
By Stage 6 we were tiring and had to dig deep to keep our work rate up.
A short but hilly stage was another great test for our young legs!
Fabio, the youngest rider in the peloton on the day, did well to finish in 27th place with Szymon not far behind him in 38th.
Unfortunately Calvin who had struggled with illness during the previous stage had to withdraw. We are extremely proud of his efforts and the team work he displayed!
With a Category 1 climb early on in Stage 7 it was always going to be an interesting day! Strong crosswinds further challenged the riders making it a very long 180 kilometre stage. Another mass sprint of 77 riders at the finish saw Szymon cross the line in 32nd place and Jonathan in 39th!
Finally Stage 8 presented a relatively flat route with a Category 2 climb 19 kilometres from the finish. Apart from Matvey who tried to reach the breakaway of 9 riders, the Pinktrain remained safely in the peloton. At the final sprint finish of the Tour both Kevin and Szymon finished strongly in 29th and 30th position respectively. Fantastic effort for Kevin representing the Pinktrain for the first time.
Our best placed rider in GC was Szymon in 28th, and the team was 17th in the teams classification.
Thanks to everyone for their hard work – riders, support staff and the organisers of the Presidential Tour of Turkey TUR. A fantastic learning experience for the Pinktrain! The team behind the scenes, our sponsors and supporters are extremely proud! And to Hijiri our best wishes for a speedy recovery!!!