Friday, 26 April 2013
Tour of Turkey Stage 5: Unbelievable?
The Tour of Turkey has been a great race this year with some great sprint action from Kittel and Greipel and a proper GC battle on the steeper stuff but todays stage win by Mustafa Sayar is likely to raise a few eyebrows and already hass, including his fellow riders...
On the face of it things don't look too good for Sayar - currently riding for the same Torku Sekerspor team that took victory overall last year with Ivailo Gabrovski who put in a series of, well, unbelievable rides only to later be found possitive for banned substances. Sayar also took part in last years race, finishing 160th out of 162 eventual finish - quite a marked improvement its safe to say.
If you watched the race on British Eurosport then you will probably have heard the commentary too - in plain English there was quite obviously some disbelief and even some *disbelief* but I've also heard that the post-race press conference was almost entirely built on questions surrounding 'doping'. Not only that but Twitter went crazy and it wasn't just the fans having their say with the official Saxobank tweeting:
@TeamSaxoTinkoff 8m A VERY surprising stage win by Mustafa Sayar #tur2013. #Teamsaxotinkoff's Rory Sutherland finished side by side with Berhane.
It wouldn't be too difficult to spot a hint of irony here, after all this is a team run by Bjarne Riis and not short of controversy themselves in recent times. But there were others, most notable the outspoken Marcel Kittel who has become an active voice of anti-doping on twitter in recent times:
@marcelkittel 9m I was not often in my life so angry about a result of someone else. And I see many people around me feeling the same. #TourofTurkey.
Without evidence though I'm not ready to lynch Sayar just yet, he's young and Turkish racing doesn't get much coverage, perhaps he is just that good but has so far gone unnoticed. He himself said in the post-race presser that he knows that all eyes will be on him now because of the way in which Gabrovski won last year. Knowing he would take the leaders jersey and therefor be drugs-tested automatically, what benefit would he gain from cheating? It wouldn't be in his or his home-nations interest to bring the race into disrepute for the second year running either. Critics have also pointed to his riding style - watch the above video and you will see him churning his way through the whole climb in the big-ring, does this make him superhuman? Not really - Sayer grew up riding mountain bike and cyclocross - he was even a national junior champion and riding with more strength and lower cadence is a trademark of this discipline. Perhaps it's working just as well for him on the road.
Lets not forget this isn't exactly a stellar climbing field either - ok so there are some WorldTour teams here but Sayar wasn't exactly riding Chris Froome and Alberto Contador off of his wheel - merely an unknown African rider nobody cared about three days ago (until his own fantastic victory) and a Saxobank domestique. For now lets hail Sayer's win as a great ride in a pretty decent week-long stage race. It's a throw back to the old days were climbs were fought in the big ring and the winner often laboured and slogged his way to the finish - it's certainly been an interesting race again this year and has provided plenty of good, if somewhat surprising viewing. I can only hope that it was a clean ride and this race goes from strength to strength...