Bora-Hansgrohe made it a 1-2 in Bodrum with Germany’s Nico Denz and Briton Matthew Walls in a bunch gallop launched way before the pure sprinters entered in action. Jasper Philipsen got blocked in a curve and lost the green jersey to Luca Colnaghi while Cees Bol rounded out the stage podium and Alexey Lutsenko retained the Turquoise jersey of race leader on the eve of the second mountainous stage to Selçuk in the 58th Presidential Cycling Tour of Türkiye.

“I was hoping for a stage win at the Presidential Cycling Tour of Türkiye but not today”, Denz reacted. “I had other plans. Today it was a lead out for Matthew Walls and keeping our GC guys safe. But the finale was so technical that riding at the front was beneficial. For me, it’s really nice to win a sprint.” He won two stages of the Giro d’Italia from breakaways and finished third in the bunch sprint of the last stage of La Vuelta in Madrid this year.

After 30km of racing, a group of six escapees was formed at the initiative of Fernando Tercero (EOLO-Kometa) who was joined by Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates), Alessio Martinelli (Green Project-Bardiani), Alejandro Franco (Burgos BH), Gianni Marchand (Tarteletto-Isorex) and Dawit Yemane (BikeAid). Vine went on the hunt for KOM points at both cat. 1 and cat. 3 climbs categorised on the day. Yemane was the virtual leader of the TUR once the time gap reached 5’30’’ and he won the intermediate sprint at km 53.6 as his deficit on GC was 5’26’’ at the start in Marmaris. Teams Alpecin-Deceuninck and Astana were forced to a strong chase all the way to Bodrum. 

“We took it on towards the last climb with Patrick Konrad and Matthew was with me as well as Florian Lipowitz who is fourth on GC”, Denz explained. “The corner with 1km to go was kind of the finish line of my work. But after that it was so just right-left all the time, no one overtook us, I kept going with Matthew on my wheel and no one passed.”

“I was feeling pretty good and I got Nico to guide me in the finale”, said Walls who is the reigning Olympic champion for omnium on the track. “He was leading me out and arrived quickly to the finish. It’s great to be first and second at the end. It’s nice to be racing well again after a long time off [due to injury].” 

As Philipsen couldn’t make his way to the front of the race for once, Colnaghi who finished sixth overtook him by two points and received the green jersey on stage. “I’m for sure surprised to get this jersey because it’s due to what happened in the last kilometre when Philipsen got boxed in”, the Italian from Green Project-Bardiani described. “But now it becomes a goal to still have it in Istanbul on Sunday. But the true goal remains to finally bring a stage win back home. There are two good stages left for sprint finishes: the last two.”

Stage 6 to Selçuk is set to shape the overall classification for good. Race leader Alexey Lutsenko commented in Bodrum: “We knew there was a head wind to finish today’s stage. I had a big team at my service today. I needed them to stay calm until the end. At the team meeting before the race, we decided to let the breakaway ahead if no one was inside five minutes on GC then we realised that teams like Alpecin-Deceuninck and Bora-Hansgrohe were also committed to a sprint finish. I’d say I haven’t worried much today. Tomorrow it’ll be a different story. It’s a good stage for me, as I’ve already said many times. I’ve done this stage in 2018. I want to try to stay up front with all the good climbers and if I feel good, why not going for the stage victory, but firstly, I want to secure the leader’s jersey.” 

Denz had more to say about the meaning of winning again after the breakthrough of his two successes in May. “I’ve been waiting for the stage win at the Giro for a long time”, the German admitted. “I was used to win a lot in the young categories but it’s not as easy among the professionals. It’s a lot of work. I enjoy working for others but I knew I had the power to also win races. But it’s not always possible to go for stage wins because we have bigger goals with the team. It’s nice to win yourself. The two stage wins at the Giro gave me a lot of confidence. It proves with this win here that I’ve worked well the whole season with my coach. He got me steady for the whole year and my peaks of form were for the Giro and La Vuelta. It’s great that I keep going well until so late this year.”

“I enjoy Türkiye a lot”, he concluded. “We’re racing in a beautiful area. The landscapes are wonderful and the hotels are always near the beach, so no complaints! I even went for a swim after stage 2. Yesterday, I was too tired after the breakaway I did solo. Now we’ll what we can do on GC with Ben Zwiehoff who is second and also Florian Lipowitz who is fourth. The TUR is not over yet.”