Rally Cycling opened its 2021 account Sunday with Arvid de Kleijn in a photo-finish sprint victory at the Tour of Turkey to earn its first win of a new racing season.
“We needed that,” said Rally Cycling sport director Pat McCarty. “It’s been a tough season so far due to the pandemic. Everyone has been working really hard and it’s nice to finally have some reward.”
De Kleijn is one of the team’s top signings for 2021, and its first non-North American rider in the franchise’s history. The team is broadening its goals and widening its net when it comes to talent, and de Kleijn didn’t take long to pay back the team for its confidence.
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The 27-year-old won in a photo finish ahead of Uno-X Pro Cycling’s Kristoffer Halvorsen. The victory sees de Kleijn take the lead in the overall and sprint classifications.
“It was a long sprint, like 400 meters,” de Kleijn said. “It was really close with Halvorsen. I was not sure if I’d won and he was also not sure. I just went for it and had enough to take it in the end. I knew I had it when I saw all our guys smiling.”
De Kleijn, who was competing in only his second race since crashing out of February’s Clásica de Almeria, made up for lost time.
“It was hard to stay in the apartment and see the other guys training and having fun,” said de Kleijn. “But from day one I focused on getting better. I’m a positive person and tried to focus on the controllable. I came into this race with an open mind.”
Monday’s stage 2 features a 145km route with a few early climbs to contend with before another expected sprint showdown.
“Looking forward, this is a great way to start the tour with a very well-rounded team,” McCarty said in a team release. “For most of the sprint days, we will see the other sprint teams continue to try and work together. We’re happy to carry the race for the leader’s jersey, but I don’t expect that we’ll have to do it all day.”