Tour of Alanya Stage 2: Andi Baj Conquers the Ascents
Stage 2, the toughest of the 2nd Tour of Alanya between Alanya – Akseki of 110km started at the front of the Alaaddin Beach Hotel with police escorts. Andi Baj who had an incredible performance during the challenging stage with tough climbs won the stage victory as well as the Yellow Jersey. Riders climbed up to an altitude of 1200m at the stage and a slope more than 15% at the last 300m to the finish. At the end of the stage Nazım Bakırcı won the Green Jersey as Mohammad Pouri won the Red mountain Jersey.
Tour of Alanya had started with 52 riders and with Hamid Manahov (Azerbaijan) disqualifying at the prologue stage and Serhat Sert (Konya Torku Şeker Spor Vivelo) opting-out because of his health problems, today’s stage started with 50 riders.
Peloton pedaled together to the sprint primes at the 34th km without attacks. Just like a group finish, peloton reached the sprint point together as Nazım Bakırcı (Brisaspor), Marko Stankoviç (Serbia) and Uğur Marmara (Brisaspor) won the primes respectively.
Peloton proceeded together to the Akseki turn with the lead of Ukrainians and the breath-taking ascents of the stage started. As climbing as a group, Marco Stankovic’s (Serbia) aka “Rambo” had a flat tire with a loud noise inside the peloton. Then he took his teammate’s rim and caught up with the peloton. Meanwhile Kamil Akalp (Turkish National Team) increased pace but the peloton formed an echelon and didn’t let him rise an attack.
Iran Süren team also tried to rise attacks. As sprinters got behind with the start of climbings, even if they’ve been a continental team just for 1 year, victorious team Iran Süren dominated the race and took the pace under their control. Till the 47th km where the serious ascents started, peloton controlled all attack attempts and reached the mountain primes at the 56th km as a group. At the last 50m, Iran Süren Team riders successfully ran away from the peloton and won all the mountain primes respectively as Mohammad Pouri, Vahid Ghaffari and Hamid Shiri Sisan. With the ascents getting harder and harder, drawbacks occured and a group of 7-8 riders including the Yellow Jersey got behind. During the descents between the tough climbs, the riders who had successful descent technique increased the gap with their velocity of up to 80km/h. The gaps increased more and more at the tough ascents and the peloton divided into 5-6 groups.
After the 65th km, attacks occured inside the leading group. Andi Baj (Manisaspor) got away from others for 100m as Vladimir Koev (Konya Torku), Nebosja Jovanovic (Serbia) and Vahid Ghaffari (Iran Süren Team) joined him. Inside the quad, Koev rose the first attack. Baj, who seemed well in form, caught Koev as the other two got behind. After that point, the gap between them increased constantly. Meanwhile Jovanovic and Ghaffari got caught by the group of 15 coming from behind to 1:30 at the 82nd km. Getting close to the finish, the gap decreased to 50s however at the finish it increased to 1m again.
Baj, tiring Koev by not changing and staying behind attacked at the last 350m and slammed Koev by 18s at the finish and won the stage victory. Vahid Ghaffari coming from the next group won the 3rd place of the tough mountain stage.
Manisaspor Team, which’s successfully contributed by their trainer Luca Zele got the first place at the team ranking at the end of the stage.
During our interview with him after the stage Baj said, “The main focus of our team’s plans wasn’t on me but after Koev attacked, I had to respond. I didn’t change with him and stayed behind. That wasn’t fair at all but the directives from my director was that. I felt strong and I’m glad to win. I’ll try to defend the Yellow Jersey till the end of the Tour.”
Despite being a climber, Nazım Bakırcı who won the Green Jersey partly with his success at the prologue commented as, “The stage was quite challenging. There were too many ascents and descents. I couldn’t close the gap since I was on my own. Righteously, our team is tired after the seven 2.2 series but we’ll still work for the Yellow Jersey”
After the stage, we interviewed with Iran Süren Team Manager Raghimi Mostafa, “We’d been waiting fot this stage as a team. It suits us since it’s a climbing stage. After 20 days, we’re going to attend the Tour of Indonesia, so this will be like training for us. Our team has been continental for a year. We’re quite glad with our victories”
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