Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) prevailed in a messy finale to stage 7 of the Presidential Tour of Turkey on Saturday.
As the sprinters’ teams began setting up for the finish to th 124km stage from Kusadasi to Izmir, the Orica-GreenEdge leadout train got caught out, winding up on the wrong side of a divided road. Green jersey Andrei Greipel (Lotto Belisol) likewise found himself shut out of the action.
A pileup in a tight U-turn leading to the finish trimmed the bunch still further. And in the end, it was Kittel claiming his second stage win of the tour ahead of Andrea Guardini (Astana) and Ariel Maximiliano Richeze (Lampre).
Mustafa Sayar (Torku Sekerspor), who took the lead on Friday’s sixth stage, continues to lead on GC, with Natnael Berhane (Europcar) second and Yohan Bagot (Cofidis) third.
Kittel said the finale proved challenging.
“To be honest the last 2km were very difficult,” he said. “Almost everyone was losing each other. I also lost my guys, then 1,000 meters from the line I managed to find the wheel of Nikias Arndt and make it back to the front.
“I kept shouting at them to go, and they brought me into the last corner. I drifted to the right and I had to click out of my pedals not to crash. I managed to be back immediately and I found myself in a very good position with 500 meters to go. Then in the last 80, 70 meters, I started my sprint. It was a very exciting finale.”
It was a finale Greipel was happy to miss.
“I had decided not to take part in the sprint because I have other races to care about after this one. The experience from last year made me believe there would be a crash and it was the case. I made the right decision,” he said.
“I also had the misfortune of taking the right lane instead of the left but in any case I wouldn’t have sprinted. I have a good enough lead in the points standings and there’s still a stage on Sunday.”