Italian veteran Davide Rebellin (CCC Sprandi-Polkowice) won the queen stage of the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey on Tuesday and assumed the overall race lead on a summit finish.
“The emotion is always the same,” Rebellin said in a team press statement. “I’m motivated for every race. I put my heart into it and give the best of myself, especially on a finish like this that suits me. I’d say that my condition is better than last year, and I have the advantage that I knew the climb and I know the Tour of Turkey.
“I came here convinced that I could finish on the podium. Today was the hardest stage, although anything can still happen of course.”
After 25km of racing in the 163km stage, a group of five went clear and built up a lead of four minutes. When they reached the first of two category-one climbs, Songezo Jim (MTN-Qhubeka), Juan Valencia (Colombia), and Jose Goncalves (Caja-Rural Seguros RGA) went clear of the break.
As the gap to the peloton fell on the climb, seven riders jumped across to the three leaders.
Another MTN rider, Youcef Reguigui was one of the seven riders who bridged to the lead with just 35km to go. He soon rode away from the front group with Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) while the peloton caught the remnants of the break.
The lead trio held onto a 30-second lead for the next 20 kilometers as Astana and CCC Sprandi-Polkowice were forced to chase.
The race came back together at the base of the day’s final, 10-kilometer categorized climb.
An early surge in the pace saw the main group whittled down to just a handful of riders. Rebellin followed an attack by Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida) with 7km to go, and the two rode off to contest the stage.
Behind them, the front group blew to pieces on the final climb. Eduardo Sepulveda (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) finished third, behind Durasek.
Heading into Wednesday’s 132km stage 4, the 43-year-old Italian holds a slim seven-second advantage on GC over Durasek. Sepulveda is 50 seconds behind in third.