Tour of Turkey: a Glimpse of the Future?

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Some races make you want to visit a place and the Tour of Turkey is one such event. Blue seas, sunny roads, it looks nice for a training holiday, although I’m not sure what the cycling is like. I watched the final of Saturday’s stage and it’s no holiday for the riders.

Here’s the obligatory helicopter shot with the placings from today’s Tour of Turkey. Notice anything different? Look who finished sixth, it’s Han Feng from China. Is this the first Chinese top-10 in a race at this level?

Whilst you might not think much of this race, it’s HC-rated on the UCI calendar, meaning a win lands you the same ranking points as a win the Dauphiné, Tour de Suisse or Paris-Nice.

Now, Han’s result was partially down to a big crash when André Greipel’s HTC-Columbia train derailed on the last corner, causing many to hit the deck. But the top-10 finish of a Chinese rider is something to note. Certainly until today the best result from a Chinese rider this season so far was Radioshack’s Li Fuyu, who finished 95th in the Basque Country’s TT stage, before that he’d not even broken the top-100 this season.

A sign of how the world is changing, although whilst China might be asserting itself in many domains, cycling is somewhere the Europeans can be sure of a stranglehold for some time, even if the likes of Evans, Horner or Hunter have already had their say this season. But the presence of a Chinese rider in a top-rated race in Turkey just shows how the sport is opening up.

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