Tour d’Azerbaidjan Stage 3 Winner is Vitaliy Popkov while Sergiy Grechyn Retains the Leader’s Jersey
Yesterday, the finish line in Ismayilli, which the riders arrived after passing by the Great Caucasus Mountains, witnessed the victory of Torku Şeker Spor. Sergiy Grechyn, who finished the Tour of Turkey as the King of the Mountains last Sunday, won the Blue Jersey of the GC Leader in Azerbaijan this time, by finishing the race 51 seconds ahead of his closest rival. Today, while Vitaliy Popkov of ISD Continental Team crossed the finish line in the first place, Stig Broeckx of Lotto-Belisol U23 became the 2nd and Christoph Schweizer of Baku Cycling was the 3rd place winner. But the jersey wearers din’t change.
The riders started today’s 165 km long stage in Qabala near the Caucasus Mountains in the early hours, yet once again, under the burning sun of Azerbaijan. Yesterday, at the first challenging stage of Tour d’Azerbaidjan, 9 riders had to go with the broom wagon and 6 other riders had to leave the race due to its difficulty. So, the 2013 Tour which started with the participation of 141 riders, had to continue with 125 of them today.
Yesterday none of Torku Şeker Spor‘s riders had left the race, even Nazım Bakırcı had finished it though he had a stomach problem. He had a fever last night, but despite the doctors’ warnings for today, he was at the start in Qabala to help and support his team-mates. He seemed very tired and still had a fever, so if he got worse, he would have to leave the race today, but fortunately this didn’t happen, and Nazım finished the stage with the peloton and didn’t leave his team-mates alone.
Today in Qabala, there was an expectation for a bunched sprint finish and the stage profile was more likely to be appropriate for the sprinters. Just after the start, an escape group of 9 occured. Since this group comprised strong names and the stage seemed better for the sprinters, it was quite hard for Torku Şeker Spor to retain the Leader’s Jersey. At km 80, the gap between the escapees and the peloton reached 6 minutes, but at the last 50 kms, it dropped down to 2 minutes.
Later on, two of the escapees, the experienced rider of ISD Continental Team, Vitaliy Popkov and Stig Broeckx of Lotto-Belisol U23 attacked and this early and unexpected attack of these 2, led them to victory. The sprint performance of these riders was exciting until the last meters of this stage win. Finally, Vitaliy Popkov of ISD Continental Team, won the stage. Stig Broeckx paid the due of remaining behind, by settling for the runner-up position. The peloton’s 3rd place struggle at the last kms, was more arduous with the bunched sprint. The 3rd name to get on the podium, became the first stage winner, Christoph Schweizer of the local team, Synergy Baku Cycling Project. By seizing a place on the podium on each stage, the local team, made the Azerbaijani people feel proud once again at their homeland, as the successful face of Azerbaijan’s progress and preparation efforts for professional cycling.
Though the time gap between the winner and the peloton was over 1 minute, Grechyn, who didn’t have to worry much for the GC today, crossed the finish line among the peloton and retained the Leader Jersey. After the stage, Grechyn commented: “Today was a challenging day for me and us. I’d like to thank my team-mates who supported me today. They supported me 100% until the last meters. Even there are demanding climbs tomorrow, my team and I will struggle to keep our lead. I feel very good. And my team feels the same way… We are strong and we want to retain the lead tomorrow as well.” At the end of the 3rd stage, Grechyn managed to keep his advantage of 51 seconds. He, who emphasized the 100% support of his team over and over, mentioned that he trusted the team and its power for tomorrow’s Queen Stage as well.
At tomorrow’s stage, which will be the last decisive one for the GC, the riders will be struggling at the Caucasus Mountains, again near Shamakhi, for a 115 km long course and at the last climb they will climb to 1400 m.
Tour d’Azerbaidjan 3rd Stage Results:
|1||POPKOV Vitaliy||ISD Continental Team|
|2||BROECKX Stig||Lotto-Belisol U23|
|3||SCHWEIZER Christoph||Synergy Baku Cycling Project|
|4||BOVENHUIS Jasper||Rabobank Development Team|
|5||AVERIN Maksym||Atlas Personal – Jakroo|
|6||SHIMIZU Miyataka||Team Bridgestone Anchor|
|7||REINHARDT Theo||Rad-Net Rose Team|
|8||SILVESTRE Fabio||Leopard – Trek Continental Team|
|9||VAN DER HAAR Lars||Rabobank Development Team|
|10||VASILYEV Maksym||ISD Continental Team|
General Classification After Stage 3:
|1||GRECHYN Sergiy||Torku Şeker Spor|
|2||SURUTKOVYCH Oleksandr||Synergy Baku Cycling Project|
|3||KOZHATAYEV Bakhtiyar||Continental Team Astana|
|4||MONIER Damien||Team Bridgestone Anchor|
|5||VILELA Ricardo||Efapel – Glassdrive|
|6||VAN DER HAAR Lars||Rabobank Development Team|
|7||BIZHIGITOV Zhandos||Continental Team Astana|
|8||HATSUYAMA Sho||Team Bridgestone Anchor|
|9||PAKHTUSOV Anatoliy||ISD Continental Team|
|10||BRANDAO Joni||Efapel – Glassdrive|
Translation: Deniz Çağırgan