THE 50th Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey (TUR) kicked off today (Sunday) in Turkey’s Mediterranean resort town of Alanya.
African pride Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung is also participating at this prestigious, UCI 2. HC event with an eight men strong lineup constituting Eritreans Merhawi Kudus and Freqalsi Debesay aiming to contest for the overall classification as well as with an options on the flat stages.
The Tour of Turkey has made headlines last year after crowning the first black African rider in a HC race. It was Eritrean Natnael Berhane (Europcar) and this year, among the eight Pro Teams and 11 Continental Pro teams, his compatriot Merhawi Kudus, who came 2nd in the Tour of Langkawi last month, is one of the favorites that are lined up to take over the title and defend his country’s colours.
Merhawi Kudus, 20, has been one of his continent’s brightest prospects since he joined the UCI’s African centre of Potchefstrom in South-Africa, and later the world centre of Aigle, in Switzerland: “We had rarely seen a rider with so much class,” said trainer Jean-Jacques Henry, who looked after him as a trainee with Continental team Bretagne-Seche Environnement.
Kudus finally turned pro for African team MTN-Qhubek and has kept earning honours since the start of the season – 2nd in the Tour of Langkawi in Malaysia and 3rd in the Mzansi Tour in South-Africa. “He really is a great satisfaction for us,” said team manager Douglas Ryder.
“His climbing abilities are obvious. That is why, in spite of his young age, we made him our leader for the Tour of Turkey, a very important race in our programme,” adds Douglas Ryder.
This national tour has become an important fixture on the world cycling calendar attracting some of the biggest names in world cycling, particularly the sprinters preparing for the Giro d’ Italia.
The last stage of the tour will be run in Istanbul, which will follow a course that connects Europe and Asia through the Bosphorus Bridge, making it the only international cycling race linking two continents.
The 50th Presidential Tour of Turkey is 8 stages long and will end on May 4.
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