Merhawi Kudus is not a name on many people’s lips, but from what we have witnessed today at the Queen’s stage of the Tour of Turkey, the 20-year-old, 54Kg Eritrean is one of the hottest talents in cycling.
TODAY’s queen stage at the Tour of Turkey was always going to be a battle with 3 big classified mountains on route. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung started the race on the front foot by placing Ferekalsi Debesay in the break of the day, which was formed at km 30, just before the first climb by 6 riders.
With 80km to go, Ferekalsi Debesay was distanced by the leading group as they made their way up the penultimate climb. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung then took control of the peloton and proceeded to set an extremely hard tempo all the way to the top of the mountain. The gap to the now 4 leading riders was drastically reduced from 4 and a half minutes to just a minute and a half while a number of riders were shelled out the back of the peloton too.
Along with Team Astana and Cofidis, Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung continued to drive the peloton along the valley floor all the way to the foot of the final climb. The early leaders were caught with 13km to go as all the MTN-Qhubeka riders continued to take turns at burying themselves on the front of the peloton. With 8km to go, Linus Gerdemann led Merhawi Kudus to the front of the peloton and then proceeded to blow the race apart with the tempo he would set until 4km to go.
Kudus put in 3 hard attacks over the final 4km’s but the young Eritrean was a marked man and was not allowed to get away. A lack of cooperation among the leaders allowed Taaramae and Yates to then ride away from the lead group and open up a 30″ lead as the main contenders watched each other. The duo would decide the stage as the main group would sprint it out for the minor placings.
With his impressive performance, Merhawi Kudus would ride himself up to 5th on the General Classifiaction, 38″ behind Taaramae.
Directeur Sportif for MTN-Qhubeka, Manel Lacambra, said:
“The team was amazing, constantly protecting Merhawi. Special mention must go to Linus who did and excellent job the whole day and also in leading out Merhawi to the last climb. Merhawi did his best, finishing with a great 4th place. This is very good for a young rider like him.
The final climb was not the best for him to be honest. It was too short and not hard enough for a pure climber like him. The biggest problem was the head wind though but we are satisfied with the result and with the work ethic of the team.”
– – – –
Remebering Natnael Berhane
LAST year, another Eritrean made history by winning this same stage of the Tour of Turkey. Natnael Berhane of Europcar not only won stage 3 (Queen’s Stage) of the Tour but also come out the overall winner of the 49th Presidential Tour of Turkey.
– – –