Presidential Tour of Turkey organisers ready for WorldTour, but need calendar clash to be addressed first
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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Presidential Tour of Turkey organisers ready for WorldTour, but need calendar clash to be addressed first

by Shane Stokes at 5:05 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Presidential Tour of Turkey
 
“As soon as we get a good date, we are ready to move up”

Presidential Tour of TurkeyThe organisers of the Presidential Tour of Turkey have said that they are prepared to apply for WorldTour status for the event, with the sticking point being the calendar date the race would be allocated rather than the question of budget.

Race organisation director Aydin Ayhan Guney confirmed the situation to VeloNation but said that the current late-April timeslot is one which makes it difficult to get the teams and riders the event would like to attract.

“We are working very hard on the teams [for 2014] but it is not that easy for us, as there are two WorldTour races at the same time, Liège and Romandie. Also the Tour of California is closer to us next year, only one week in between the two events. For teams like RadioShack, Sky, Garmin and BMC, California is more important.

“We are ready for the WorldTour level. At the moment our budget is much more than many WorldTour events, so that’s not an issue. The only question is the date in the calendar. As soon as we get a good date, we are ready to move up.”

The event will hold its 50th edition next April, and has experienced an upsurge in quality of field in recent years as an effort has been made to attract big foreign teams. This year nine WorldTour teams took part, namely Astana, Blanco Pro Cycling [later renamed Belkin – ed.], Katusha, Lampre Merida, Lotto Belisol, Omega Pharma Quick Step, Orica GreenEdge, Argos Shimano and Saxo Tinkoff.

However Ayhan Guney feels that moving the start date is vital to its WorldTour chances, and also to boosting the likelihood that well-known riders would accompany their teams to the country.

“We have had discussions with the UCI and they feel we are ready,” he stated. “Hopefully if we get the right timeslot in the future, we can do that. The question is when would be idea. February looks to be the best time [in terms of gaps in the calendar – ed.] but unfortunately the rainy season here takes place then and it is really serious.

“Also, many of the hotels are closed in the off-season. After May it is difficult as all the hotels are full. Currently April is the best for us, but it is the busiest time in the calendar.”

It’s something that Ayhan Guney hopes will be addressed when the UCI rejigs the WorldTour. “Many things will change in the planned reform, so we will see how things are then.”

That reform has been talked about by the UCI and a document showing some of the proposed changes was presented at the UCI Congress. Proposals include a shortening of certain WorldTour races, which could in theory free up space on the calendar.

However it is thought that the earliest the first such reforms could be implemented would be 2015, meaning that the Tour of Turkey must maintain its 2.HC ranking for at least one more year.

Ayhan Guney said that planning is already underway for the event. “The contract has just been signed. We started working in the beginning of last week,” he said. “The race will be held between April 27th and May 4th. We are now sending out invitations to teams. We are trying to make it a bigger event this year as it is the fiftieth edition and there is a big interest. Our plan is to have either the same quality of field or perhaps a bit higher.

“There will also be a bit of change to the route. It will again start in Alanya and finish in Istanbul. However there will be changes along the way. The queen stage will be a little harder than before, and there will be other modifications.”

The confirmation that the race is aiming higher for the future is reassuring. It is very well organised, run off in stunning scenery and gets good feedback from the riders, not least because of the quality of the hotels. However some wondered if its backing by the Turkish government and sponsors could be affected due to problems with the last two race winners.

In 2012 Ivailo Gabrovsky tested positive for EPO and was disqualified. Twelve months later, his Torku team-mate Mustafa Sayar triumphed overall, the Continental team rider improving from his lacklustre showing one year earlier to dominate the race.

That performance was greeted with scepticism and then in July news came through that he had tested positive for EPO at the earlier Tour of Algeria. The UCI is yet to confirm publicly the final outcome, but the race organisers have stripped him from the results in Turkey and Ayhan Guney told VeloNation that Sayar has been fired by his team and retired from the sport.

“We have had difficulties, we had to face a lot of questions [because of the Torku riders – ed.],” he accepted. “However we convinced the supporters and the sponsors of the value of the race, not least because it is the fiftieth year.”

More details of next year’s course will follow closer to the event. Slightly longer-term, though, it looks possible that the UCI ranking and overall standard of the teams will move up a level. If so, the promotion will further the globalisation of the sport, with the race – which is run off almost completely in Asia – guaranteed to generate even more interest in the region.

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