Despite fears that heavy snowfall would force the cancellation of the 2021 Tour of Turkey’s opening stage, a shortened, re-routed 70km-stage will take its place, and could aid Deceuninck – Quick-Step hopes for a Mark Cavendish win as the uphill kilometres vanish from the first day of racing.
The original route of stage one was set to see the peloton tackle the hills between Nevşehir and Ürgüp in central Turkey, but heavy snowfall made the route no longer viable.
“The 1st stage of the TUR from Nevşehir to Ürgüp was canceled due to heavy snowfall. See you again, Nevşehir!” Race organisers said, as riders tweeted out pictures of freezing conditions from the sanctuary of their hotel rooms.
“It’s nice this little snow course. Choice of activities: electric motor racing on ice or a biathlon session,” said Pierre Rolland.
The new 72.4km route features an intermediate sprint and a category three climb towards the end of the race, starting and finishing in Konya, which also hosts the start and finish of stage two.
The new course is much flatter than the original one, which included five ascents of a category two climbs, although only two of the ascents were categorised for the KOM competition, which should only aid the efforts of Cavendish and Fabio Jakobsen, making his comeback to racing, as they aim for victory in Turkey over the coming six days.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step are accompanied by two other WorldTour outfits in Astana – Premier Tech and Israel Start-Up Nation, while Alpecin – Fenix and B&B Hotels are among the ProTeams lining up.
“Cav is now really close to winning. In the Tour of Turkey? Of course, it will depend on little things, but yes it’s possible,” sports director Wilfried Peeters said earlier in the week.
Jakobsen, meanwhile, says he’s looking to re-learn how to trust his colleagues in the peloton after his serious crash at the Tour of Poland last August, saying in training he has moments where he can feel the “old Fabio” is still there, and that he hopes it’s only a matter of time before he can compete for victories again.