Still baffled by Maxim Iglinskiy winning Liege-Bastogne-Liege (lucky for me Briggs was available to write a complete recap of Ardennes Classics 2012) I turned to a relaxing line of cycling. That is I started to watch Tour of Turkey. A few years back it was all about the scenery, with second rate teams and empty streets. I enjoyed the sea, the roman stuff, the spectacular resorts.
Now Tour of Turkey (ahem Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey) is almost sure to get a World Tour spot (rumours say 2014). They have an incredible line-up this year (Astana, GreenEdge, Omega Pharma QuickStep, Rabobank, Katusha, Lotto and so on), the scenery is still amazing and you must love it when Greipel the Gorilla is presented with a bunch of bananas after claiming a stage win.
It all comes down to tourism. Tourism brings big bucks, cycling is a sport that attracts audience on Eurosport - the panEuropean sports channel. So it makes sense to have a cycling tour showing of your ... stuff. There are still some "a la turka" elements, like government orchestrated fan groups or the traffic jam at yesterday's summit finish. But all in all it's coming along nicely.
The edgy part
|Gabrovsky wins, tour director cheers|
Gabrovsky (bulgarian, Konya Torku Seker Spor) won in Elmali (turkish Alpe d'Huez). This guy was big in the Cycling Tour of Bulgaria aka the last place on Earth where antidoping in cycling doesn't apply. Or so they say. Ongoing joke "he ate radioactive cucumbers" - knowing that Bulgaria had a dodgy nuclear power plant and the country is famous for cucumbers.
And Romanian cyclist Alex Ciocan, commentator for Eurosport Romania now, explained how the Turkish federation managed to qualify cyclists for the London Olympic road race event. They would stage several competitions and invite lame teams so that the local boys can grab points. Not nice but effective.