Jasper Philipsen finished second twice in the second stage of the Tour of Turkey after the Alpecin-Deceuninck rider defeated Cees Bol (Astana-Qazaqstan) in a difficult uphill sprint.
Philipsen claimed the 40th win of his career and 17th of the season after Bol made a late charge, but Philipsen passed the Dutchman just in time to win.
The Belgian sprinter thus remains in the lead for the second day in a row after the hilly 166.2 km long stage from Kemer to Kalkan.
Alpecin-Deceuninck caught up with the last riders after a three-person break 13 kilometers from the finish line, and then, after a series of short attacks in the final, Philipsen perfectly timed the charge at the end and secured the victory.
“It was a really difficult finish, I was on the limit, and at the end of the season everything that was uphill hurt even more,” Philipsen said in an interview with the race organization.
“Cees did a really good sprint, but it was a long way to the finish. I knew someone would try and I didn’t expect it to be so hard, but as the finish line approached, I felt like I had a little more power in my legs.”
“It’s always nice to win, especially after a difficult finish like this.”
Uneven stage with the cat. Two climbs in the last 50 kilometers that will probably decide the race, it was up to Alpecin-Deceuninck to maintain control of the group, and to break three, Lennert Teugels (Bingoal WB), Artur Sowiński (Voster-ATS) and Matteo Amella (Corratec-Selle Italia) for the whole day.
Cat. 2, which was predictable, eliminated several sprinters from the race. However, with the main challenge of the day taken by Philipsen, the bunch sprint still seemed the most likely outcome, with Alpecin Deceuninck logically doing most of the work for the clear favorite.
Amella’s attack on a small hill late in the meeting saw Sowiński catch up and the duo briefly extended their lead to around two minutes before a series of stiff, unclassified coastal climbs in the final hour resulted in a more lopsided chase from behind.
But there was finally a break with 13 kilometers to go, and although UAE Team Emirates provided a brief burst of pace, the atmosphere was much calmer than during Sunday’s tense final.
With the city of Kalkan almost in sight, Stage 2 showed some signs of recovery as Eolo-Kometa and Bingoal-WB tried to briefly wake things up, but top teams such as UAE suppressed the mini-rebellion with attacks of their own. Finn Fisher-Black (UAE Team Emirates) made one short attack on a long, slight hill, passed the peloton, and Bora-Hansgrohe fired several of his men at the front. However, the blue-clad Alpecin-Deceuninck soldiers with Philipsen in the turquoise jersey were never too far from the race and even when the road climbed significantly in the final kilometer, Philipsen was still visible close to the boss.
Bol’s brutal acceleration looked for a moment like it might have caught Philipsen and co. by surprise at the last possible moment and 30 meters from the line Bol was still in the lead. But Philipsen, as he said later, had enough energy to breeze past and win the stage by three-quarters of a bike length, with Luca Colnaghi (Green Project-Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè) taking the podium of the day.
Fastmen will take a firm backseat on Tuesday’s stage as the 2023 Tour of Turkey tackles its first major climb, an 18-kilometer ascent to Fethiye with an average gradient of 10%. However, Philipsen more than lived up to his responsibilities, taking back-to-back wins and a two-day lead, with more victories still to come.
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