Diego Ulissi claims queen stage to claim overall lead in Tour of Turkey
Italian Diego Ulissi told Eurosport he would make his move on Stage 4 and he did just that to lift the leader’s jersey off Sam Bennett at the 53rd Presidential Tour of Turkey.
"This was an important win because we wanted this and wanted to do well here as a team and have a very good end of season,” Ulissi said after the 204.1-kilometre stage from Marmaris, which included three categorised climbs on the day. "For my part I wanted to end it well, and at least in part I’m doing so because today I won a really beautiful stage here in Turkey.
“We have the leader’s jersey and we will try to defend it.”
Ulissi told Eurosport prior to the stage that he had planned to make his move on the day after the Stage 3 climbs simply were not long enough to establish a gap on the sprinters.
"I knew that on a finish like this everyone would look to our team to take control,” he explained. "My teammates did a major job today. In the end I was afraid there would not be much selection. [Przemyslaw] Niemiec did a great job towards the end. In the final kilometre I managed to do a great sprint even if by that stage there wasn’t many of us left.
"With the win, Ulissi assumes leadership of the race and slips into the turquoise jersey with a 12-second lead over Denmark’s Jesper Hansen (Astana), who finished second five seconds back, and 24 on fellow Italian Fausto Masnada (Androni-Sidermec-Bottecchia). While Sam Bennett finished second to last at 14 minutes 59 seconds adrift to drop out of general classification contention, the 26-year-old remains in the green points jersey with a four-point lead over Belgian Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo).
"It wasn’t so much the last two climbs, it was more so the beginning of the race,” Bennett told Eurosport after the stage. Starting from the going uphill and I just couldn’t get going, and then on that long climb I was overheating.
"I had a bit of holiday in Ireland I went back and trained there,” he continued. It was so hot going up the climbs and I couldn’t stay in the bunch and was getting dropped a bit.
“It got better at the end. It was getting cooler. I was OK the second to last climb. Yeah, I don’t think I was able today.”
Another lead change came in the mountains classification with Danilo Celano (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) lifting the red jersey from Italian Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF), who is now tied with Celano on points with 12.
With two stages remaining, the race resumes with another hilly, yet less imposing stage on Saturday before the event takes flight to Istanbul for the finale of the six-stage UCI WorldTour race.
-- Lead image credit: Brian Hodes/VeloImages