Political unrest in the country has dissuaded the top Belgian teams from taking part in the 2017 Tour of Turkey
Quick-Step Floors team manager Patrick Lefevre has said that none of his team wanted to ride in the 2017 Tour of Turkey.
Lefevre joined fellow Belgian WorldTour squad Lotto-Soudal in citing lack of rider interest and recent political unrest in Turkey as the reason they did not want to participate in the race.
Talking to Belgian paper Het Nieuwsblad, Lefevre said: “In October, we did have the Tour of Turkey on our schedule. But we asked the riders during the training camp in December who wanted to ride. Nobody, but nobody, said they wanted to.”
Lotto-Soudal manager Marc Sergeant was clear that the political situation in Turkey was his team’s reason for not wishing to attend.
“There were no incidents last year and there was a lot of attention to safety. Every hundred metres you could see an agent. But since then, much has happened: new attacks, a coup attempt. I read that since last year 10,000 people were arrested.
“With all these reasons, we decided not to go this year.”
The Tour of Turkey was one of 11 new races to join the UCI’s top flight WorldTour race calendar for 2017.
Unlike existing WorldTour races, it is not mandatory for all WorldTour teams to attend the newly-added events. Instead, race organisers have to attract the teams and rely on them wanting to attend.
So far, only one WorldTour squad has said it will attend the Tour of Turkey, and now the race’s organiser is trying to shift the race date from April to some time in October. If that cannot happen or the teams still stay away, the race could be cancelled.
The Tour of Qatar has already been cancelled this year for financial reasons and lack of support, after it also joined the WorldTour for 2017.
With no guaranteed attendance for all of the top teams, and increased financial outlay related to being part of the WorldTour, several organisers are now questioning what the benefits are of joining the UCI’s top-flight race calendar.