First pro win and first time race leader for Germans Max Kanter and Henri Uhlig

First pro win and first time race leader for Germans Max Kanter and Henri Uhlig

It was a sprint of strong men to succeed to Jasper Philipsen in the uphill finish of Kaş (Kalkan) and it came down to the much awaited first pro victory of Germany’s Max Kanter of Astana ahead of his compatriot Henri Uhlig from Alpecin-Deceuninck who took over from Fabio Jakobsen in the lead of the overall classification as most of the pure sprinters didn’t make the front group in the longest stage of the 59th Presidential Tour of Türkiye (190km).

After a solo attempt by Antoine Berlin (BikeAid), six riders managed to break away after 35km of racing: David Lozano (Novo Nordisk), Gianni Marchand (Tarteletto-Isorex), Vinzent Dorn (BikeAid), Samet Bulut (Beykoz Belediyesi Spor Türkiye), Jonathan Rottmann (Rembe) and Jakub Kaczmarek (Mazowsze Serce Polski). Their maximum advantage was 4’55’’ after 110km.

In the meantime, Dorn won the Treasures of Türkiye Sprint to extend his lead in this classification. The German also took the first KOM prize but not the second one, which was a cat. 2 climb, therefore the red jersey went to Bulut. The 21 year old from Bursa was first at the top with 58km remaining. Dorn forged on by himself after that climb but was reeled by the peloton 50km before the finish in Kalkan. 

Several top sprinters including race leader Fabio Jakobsen, runner-up Sasha Weemaes and Mark Cavendish got dropped in the different climbs. Out of 171 starters in Kemer, 81 riders made the front group. The race was mostly controlled by Bora-Hansgrohe and Polti-Kometa in the finale although Burgos BH had some intentions to avoid a sprint finish. David Gonzalez of Caja Rural-RGA also tried to anticipate the action of the fast men in the steep section located 400 metres before the line but it was eventually a winning sprint for Kanter.

Stage 2 winner Max Kanter declared: “This first pro win makes me emotional because the past years have not always been easy, especially at the beginning of my career, I’ve had injuries and it took me a long time to come back, there was always something missing to win a race. But at Astana, everyone was behind me today, my family also a big part into that success.

For the finale today, our trainer Vassili Anastopoulos told me to save as much energy as possible. The plan was to go for me. Mark Cavendish was part of that plan. Also to have such a big legend of cycling supporting me 100%, it shows what a great team-mate he is. I tried to put all this into my last sprint.

My lead out man Davide Ballerini positioned me really well in the last 10km. He made me stayed super calm. This is his first race this year. He also comes out of a period that was not easy for him. In the coming days, we’ll see what plans we make. His legs are also super strong and he could win as well. We are a team, it doesn’t matter who is winning, the most important is to win again. 

We are in a building up period for the Giro d’Italia. The Tour of Türkiye is part of it. I’m happy that we can show this kind of performance ahead of the Giro here. A couple of years ago, I came here on holiday, near Side, like many German people do.”

Race leader Henri Uhlig said: “It’s something special to being two Germans in the first two places today and one as a stage winner, the other one as the race leader. The funny thing is that we also have the same management agency, it makes it nice a success. I know that Max has worked a lot to get this first pro win. For myself, it’s a shame to miss out on the victory, but if it’s not me, I prefer that another German wins. I also have the leader jersey, I didn’t expect that at all. 

We started the stage with two plans. I was the plan B if the race was too hard for Simon Dehiars. He had problems in the first climb of the day, came back, but at the end it was only me and Rob [Ghys] who told me to trust myself. When we discussed who to sprint for, he said we go full for you, so I tried to go for the sprint. Rob gets better and better every day as a lead out mane, but we were too early in the wind. The Caja Rural rider went at 250m to go in the wind, my mistake was to wait and not follow him. I need to be more aggressive.

I didn’t check the other stages yet. If there’s a similar finish, with more guys left from our team in the finale, our chances are really high to win a stage. I had bad feelings last week, so it’s a surprise to go so well, but now I think we’re capable of winning, especially with Simon.

I’m quite surprised about leading the Tour of Türkiye. It was never the goal, it’s my first time in a pro race, it’s special. It’s still a long way until the mountain stage. Maybe I’ll try to get more time bonus to retain the lead but this is just a nice bonus, I have no chance of defending the jersey in the mountains. It’ll be hard to control, as we started with six riders only, I feel a bit sorry for my team-mates…”

Points classification leader Giovanni Lonardi said:

“For sure we’re happy as a team with these results and the green jersey today. We came here to do well. It might be better to win a stage and be absent from the other ones. But it’s still a satisfaction to be in the mix two days in a row. We did this finale also last year. I knew it was pretty hard. I didn’t want to start too early. I didn’t manage to get out at the end, but fifth here is alright. We’ll try again to win a stage in the coming days. If the win comes, it’s great, if not it’s still a good lead up to the Giro d’Italia.”

King of the Mountains Samet Bulut said: 

“From the beginning of the climb, I followed the action and I realized the white jersey [Vinzent Dorn] was a bit tired so I went for it to get the KOM prize as I was feeling stronger and stronger. It made me believe that I could win. When I took up cycling five years ago, I didn’t know how far I could go but to get a distinctive jersey in this race today is a first big achievement. I know that I’m not yet ready to compete against the top riders at the end of the stages. I’m only 21. So the red jersey is an enormous satisfaction for now.”

Treasures of Türkiye classification leader Vinzent Dorn said:

“Once I found myself in the breakaway, I also wanted to try to go for the KOM. I think it has a bit more prestige than the white jersey and it’s something I wanted to go for for the whole week. The red jersey is one goal for the team. Now we’re equal on points [with Samet Bulut]. We will continue to target it. I know the rider who won the Treasures of Türkiye classification last year only won it on two stages so as I already did that, I’ll focus more on the KOM, which means I have to go for breakaways again in the coming days.”