Iljo Keisse picks himself up to take solo win in Tour of Turkey stage seven
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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Iljo Keisse picks himself up to take solo win in Tour of Turkey stage seven

by VeloNation Press at 11:12 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Presidential Tour of Turkey
Omega Pharma-Quick Step track star crashes in final kilometre but holds off sprinters on the line

Iljo KeisseIljo Keisse (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) snatched victory from the jaws of disaster as he recovered from a final kilometre crash to take the seventh stage of the Tour of Turkey. The Belgian track star was racing solo to the finish in Izmir, and heading towards what looked like a simple victory, after having attacked the rest of a seven-man breakaway with six kilometres to go. However he slid off on a tight corner just inside the final kilometre.

After having to replace his chain and losing more time, Keisse hurriedly remounted and continued to the finish, just managing to hold off the charging peloton by a matter of a few metres.

Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) won the battle for second at the end of the short 124km stage, just ahead of Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD). The latter was keen to prove a point after his team left him out of its Giro d’Italia line up.

“I tried everyday to be in a breakaway,” an elated Keisse said in the press room after the podium ceremony. Today it worked. It was a good group, we worked very well together. I felt quite strong and with five kilometres to go I went alone. I saw that I had quite a big gap and I thought I could go for victory.

“The last turn was 180 degrees so I went easy but my front wheel slipped. I tried to stay calm and I jumped on the bike but the chain was off. Behind I saw the remaining guys of the break 20 meters behind me. But I’m a track rider, I know what it is to ride a kilometre with a standing start. Then I saw the peloton coming back very fast on me but I made it. Maybe by five metres…just enough to win. I’m very happy about it.”

Kittel had been wanting to pick up a victory in the race, but narrowly missed out today. He was philosophical in defeat. “It happens. It was an unusual sprint today because of the tail wind we had leading up to the finish. The conditions were good for the breakaway to succeed. We still tried to go for the win but were ten metres short at the end. Tomorrow is another day!”

Overnight race leader Ivaïlo Gabrovski (Konya Torku Seker Spor) finished in the bunch and now looks almost certain to take the final victory. He only has tomorrow’s final 121 kilometre stage in Istanbul to complete before netting his biggest win.

Early move stays clear for most of the stage:

Three riders were missing from the race’s sunny coastal start in Kusadasi, with Australians Cameron Meyer (GreenEdge) and Luke Roberts (Saxo Bank) plus the Frenchman Geoffroy Lequatre (Bretagne Schuller) not signing on.

Keisse attacked very soon after the start and was joined by Andrey Zeits (Astana), Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha), Laurent Pichon (Bretagne-Schuller), Damien Gaudin and Jérôme Cousin (both Europcar) and Marek Canecky (Salcano-Arnavutkoy).

Four riders tried to get across, but gave up when the bunch marked them; this was unsurprising, as race leader Ivailo Gabrovski was one of the quartet.

After just 9.8 kilometres Pichon beat Keisse and Ignatyev for the Turkish Beauty sprint. They continued to keep the pressure on after this and their advantage increased to a minute by the fourteen kilometre point, and then ramped up further to the maximum of three minutes sixteen seconds by kilometre 45.

This made them dangerous to the peloton as Zeits had started the day three minutes 46 seconds off the race lead. As a result the peloton accelerated; Konya-Torku Seker Spor, Rabobank, Lotto-Belisol, and Lampre-ISD all chased behind, but were careful not to close it down too soon. They pegged the gap back to a more manageable two and a half minutes.

The sprinters in the race were determined that a big bunch would arrive together but the Team Type 1 and Argos Shimano teams had a blow to their chances when Daniele Colli and Marcel Kittel were both involved in a crash forty kilometres from the line.

Kittel wasn’t too badly hurt and was up and moving quickly. Colli took quite a while longer but would ultimately make it back to the peloton.

The gap continued to drop and was under a minute with ten kilometres to go. Five kilometres later, Keisse decided that it was time to make his move and darted clear. He built a decent lead, which ultimately proved crucial; he fell on a tight bend inside the final kilometre, was delayed further when he realized his chain had come off, and just about managed to hold off Kittel, Petacchi, Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia), Mark Renshaw (Rabobank) and the rest.

Gabrovski is now poised for victory, but doesn’t want to take things for granted. “I said I’d sleep well tonight if I kept the turquoise jersey after Izmir but actually I’ll only feel relaxed tomorrow after the finish. I’m still under pressure,” he said. “It’s hard to hold a leader’s jersey. I was above all afraid near the finish…the sprinters went at full speed.

“I’m glad I finished within the main bunch and avoided crashes in the final three kilometres. To be the leader in Istanbul as a member of a Turkish team is more than a victory.”

Result stage 7
1. Iljo Keisse (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
2. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Argos-Shimano
3. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-ISD
4. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Farnese Vini-Selle Italia
5. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Rabobank
6. Robert Förster (Ger) UnitedHealthcare Procycling
7. Jempy Drucker (Lux) Verandas
8. Daniele Colli (Ita) Team Type 1-Sanofi
9. Alexey Tsatevich (Rus) Katusha Team
10. Juan Jose Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank

Standings after stage 7
1. Ivaïlo Grabovski (Bul) Konya-Torku Seker Spor
2. Alexandr Dyachenko (Kaz) Team Astana @ 1’33”
3. Danail Petrov (Bul) Caja Rural @ 1’38”
4. Adrian Palomares (Spa) Andalucía @ 1’44”
5. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale @ 2’01”
6. Alexander Efimkin (Rus) Team Type 1-Sanofi @ 2’23”
7. Florian Guillou (Fra) Bretagne-Schuller @ 2’29”
8. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Colnago-CSF Inox @ 2’48”
9. Michal Golas (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 3’02”
10. William Routley (Can) Spidertech p/b C10 @ 3’05”


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