Organisers of the Tour of Turkey have proposed a new date for their race in the hope that it will attract the minimum number of WorldTour teams to secure its future as a top-tier race.
One of 10 new WorldTour events for the 2017 season, the race is supposed to run from April 18-23, a date that clashes with the Ardennes Classics, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and comes just a fortnight before the Giro d’Italia.
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With updated rules stating that the new WorldTour races must attract a minimum of 10 teams from cycling’s top division, the prestige of the Tour of Turkey (only two WorldTour teams competed in 2016) coupled with its place in the cycling calendar meant that is unlikely to happen, with just one WorldTour outfit apparently committed.
The Turkish Cycling Federation have met with UCI officials on a number of occasions, and have formally requested new dates of October 8-15 which would also result in an extra two days of racing; only Paris-Tours and Chrono des Nations overlap with these dates.
Turkish Cycling Federation President Erol Küçükbakırcı told TRT Haber: “We asked the UCI to organise the 53rd Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey on October 8 to 15 because the old calendar coincided with other tours and UCI saw it as appropriate, otherwise the teams came reluctantly and the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey ended without us.
“We are regulated in the current dates but the last two or three days the cyclists are leaving the race, so the taste of the tour is running away and the tourism season is not closing in October.”
Although the race could still run in its planned spring dates, the organisers are reluctant to do so given that it would likely mean it would be forced to relinquish its status as a top-level race. “They can not remove it from the World Tour calendar,” Küçükbakırcı added.
Although the UCI have yet to formally ratify this date, according to Pro Cycling Stats six WorldTour teams have provisionally signed up to race in its prospective new dates. Katusha-Alpecin, Trek-Segafredo, Astana, AG2R La Mondiale, Bora-Hansgrohe and UAE Abu Dhabi are said to be the top-tier teams interested.
The final WorldTour event of the season would still be the Tour of Guangxi, the new Chinese race.