Belletti takes stage 3 and the overall lead

Italy’s Manuel Belletti of Colnago-CSF won stage 3 of the Presidential Tour of Turkey in Marmaris and took the lead over from Astana’s Valentin Iglinskiy.

He preceded his compatriot Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli) and Australia’s Wesley Sulzberger (FDJ) in the final sprint.

The first breakaway of the day was formed after 22 kilometres by four riders: Arthur Vichot (FDJ), Yoann Bagot (Cofidis), Luis Felipe Laverde (Colombia ès passion) and Marek Canecky (Manisaspor). They reached a maximum advantage of six minutes with 50km to go, until Lampre-ISD was the first sprinters’ team to start chasing.

The blue-fuchsia team did most of the work and reduced the gap to less than one minute with 15 kilometres to go. Vichot, Bagot and Laverde had dropped Canecky off 39km before the finishing line. The trio got caught by the bunch as there were only 11km remaining. Successively, Oscar Gatto (Farnese Vini-Neri-Sottoli), Alexandr Dyachenko (Astana) and Sandy Casar (FDJ) accelerated strongly at the head of the bunch and created some splits. Not all the sprinters managed to stay in the first group and the stage victory was contested by only half of the bunch.

Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) and Andre Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) were still up there but for the third day in a row, they were dominated by lesser known sprinters. Svein Tuft (Spidertech) tried to anticipate the sprint in the last kilometre along the sea side of the beautiful holiday town of Marmaris and Sulzberger was attentive at everything happening in the first positions.

Belletti had prepared his coup and repeated the kind of sprint that made him a hero last year when he won stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia in his home town of Cesenatico. This is his third win for the 2011 season. Laverde became the king of the mountain ahead of stage 4 from Marmaris to Pamukkale (207km), which is considered the queen stage of the Presidential Tour of Turkey, heading inland towards the UNESCO world heritage site where Giovanni Visconti built his overall victory last year. A little bit of rain is expected on the way and it might make the race even harder and more spectacular.

Quotes from the top three riders

Manuel Belletti (1st, Colnago-CSF): "Without any doubt, my experience of the Tour of Turkey has helped me to win today’s stage. This is my third participation. I knew this stage and I didn’t hide that it was my favourite one. Unfortunately last year, I didn’t manage to stay up the front but today my team kept me out of trouble in the first positions in the final climb, so I could sprint without any complication at the difference of the past two years. The two riders [Svein Tuft and Wesley Sulzberger] who had jumped from the bunch actually helped as points of reference. I was feeling well and it was already my plan to start sprinting with 300 metres to go. I dedicate this win to my team because of the great help I got, to my family members who follow my career and to my loved one. Every day this race has a new leader. I didn’t come here for riding GC but now I’ll try to keep the turquoise jersey, but if I happen to lose it, I hope it’ll go to one of my team-mates. I have in mind to do well at the beginning of the Giro d’Italia because some stages suit me in the first two weeks, so I’m here in Turkey to hard for being strong at the Giro but I also don’t want to arrive cooked. So we’ll see how it goes tomorrow but at least I intend to be present in the coming sprints of the Tour of Turkey."

Roberto Ferrari (2nd, Androni Giocattoli): "I started sprinting behind Belletti at the 250m to go mark but it took some advantage and I never managed to bridge this gap. I was hoping to win today but I’m satisfied anyway because it shows that my condition is good for the Giro d’Italia."

Wesley Sulzberger (3rd, FDJ): "I’ve hit the front with 300 metres to go. I knew the sprinters were going to pass me but I was lucky enough that only two of them did. It would have been good to have a better position at the end but I’m happy with third."

Stage Summary

Istanbul – Istanbul
24 April 2011, 114.1 km

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