The under-the-radar Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey wrapped up on Sunday, with Bora-Hansgrohe’s Austrian Felix “Three S” Grossschartner taking the win, the team’s first ever WorldTour stage race victory. What caught the eye was that the podium was the inverse of the previous WorldTour stage race, the Itzulia Basque Country from April 8 to 13, except instead of the Basque Country’s Astana, UAE-Team Emirates, Bora order, Turkey ended Bora, UAE and Astana.
Basque Country was huge for Bora except in the overall champion department. Max Schachmann won three stages and led from Stage 1 to Stage 5, when teammate Emanuel Buchmann took the victory and the leader’s jersey. Buchmann was unable to hold the lead on the last day and ceded the title to Astana’s Jon Izagirre. Buchmann took third and UAE’s Dan Martin was the runner-up.
In the Tour of Turkey, Bora’s Irishman Sam Bennett won the first two stages and led until Stage 5 when Grossschartner took over with a stage triumph. Standing on either side of Grossschartner on the final podium in Istanbul was UAE’s Valeri Conti and Astana’s new Eritrean Merhawi Kudus.
— Astana Pro Team (@AstanaTeam) April 21, 2019
Currently second to Deceuninck-Quick Step in the WorldTour rankings, Astana is having a fantastic season, with wins and podiums galore from a host of riders, including Sunday’s third place for Jakob Fuglsang in the Amstel Gold Race. At the Itzulia Basque Country, Fuglsang actually posed on the final podium with Martin and Izagirre, but the race jury decided that Buchmann and several others had been misdirected in the final kilometre of the last stage and their times were adjusted. All the sprayed champagne, none of the official glory. The Dane is second to Julian Alaphilippe in the WorldTour individual standings.
Bora is in third place in the WorldTour team rankings, the same place the Germany–based squad finished last year. The squad is getting loads of points from Bennett, Grossschartner, Buchmann, Schachmann and even Peter Sagan, who is having an off year.
UAE had three straight April podiums in the WorldTour: Conti, Martin and Alexander Kristoff coming third in the Tour of Flanders. Kristoff won Gent-Wevelgem as well. New rider Fernando Gaviria took second in the Three Days of Brugge-De Panne. UAE was 12th last year in the WorldTour but currently sits sixth.
Martin will be UAE’s best bet for the Fleche Wallonne, having stood on the podium three times. He’ll contest the Tour de France in July.