Ivailo Grabovski,the Bulgarian champion riding for the tiny Turkish Continental team Konya Torku Seker Spor won the General Classification of the 48th Presidential Tour of Turkey, beating big name riders from Europe’s best ProTour teams.
Grabovski earned his win, gaining a 1:33 lead will a very long solo attack in Stage Three, and defending that lead in every subsequent stage, covering almost every break at a tremendous cost of energy. The Bulgarian’s legs held out just long enough; he kept close enough to the front right down to the final sprint of the final stage.
Rabobank’s Theo Bos won the first and the last stages of the Tour of Turkey, in both cases in a very close sprint victory. In Stage Eight he was led out by one of the best in the business, Mark Renshaw (who also proved he can win a sprint, taking Stage Four.)
While many riders rode well, Grabovski is the hero of the event. He won the first Tour of Turkey stage for a Turkish team, and pushed himself hard to win the GC. His teammates also answered the bell in Stages Six and Seven, helping drive the peloton when none of the ProTour teams were willing to help.
The Tour of Turkey has dramatically increased its international profile through the past couple of years; there is talk of it eventually becoming a World Tour event—in which case Continental teams like Konya Torku would be excluded.
Grabovski brought Turkey the glory at the perfect time. A couple of years before and names Like Alexandr Vinokourov, Andre Greipel, Mark Renshaw, and Theo Bos wouldn’t all have attended. A couple of years later and his team might not have an invite.
Grabovski struck at the perfect time in Stage Three, attacking near the bottom of the final climb and getting so far ahead that later attacks couldn’t reach him. He and his team struck at the right time in the Tour of Turkey’s career as well. Cycling is indeed a sport of strategy as well as strength and stamina.