Many were surprised by Tuesday’s winner of the Tour of Turkey‘s queen stage. Ivailo Gabrovski is a Bulgarian who rides for local Continental Team Konya Turku Seker Spor, though I fail to understand why. Here’s a rider who won the overall in 2007 and who knows the lie of the land.
Having come up through French squad Jean Delatour, he subsequently knocked around with a number of continental teams, hovering on the fringes despite his 61 wins – including five in the general classification of his homeland Tour of Bulgaria (2003, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011).
With the exception of some of the other local riders, no one else in the peloton would have ridden yesterday’s stage. Never has the phrase ‘planning and preparation are the keys to success’ rung so true. Don’t forget, it’s the first time this climb has featured in the Tour of Turkey. But I’m sure it won’t be its one and only appearance. Gabrovski had signalled his intent and form with his third place overall in the recent Tour of Maroc.
The rider who finished third was Bulgarian national champion Danail Petrov, who rides for Spanish ProContinental squad Caja Rural, having ridden last year for Konya Turku Seker Spor. I last saw him finishing seventh in the recent GP Miguel Indurain. He’s ridden most of his career for Continental Portuguese squads and has racked up 26 wins.
The riders, both aged 34, probably see the televised Tour of Turkey as an opportunity to have a day in the sun, their 15 minutes of fame and maybe, just maybe, land a better contract for next year.
Gabrovski rode well again yesterday, chasing down breaks which his less experienced team mates were at a loss to handle. The ambitions of the sprint squads, and particularly those with Australian riders wanting to win on Anzac day, helped preserved his overall lead. [Mark Renshaw edged out Matt Goss to complete an Australian one-two – Ed.]
Whether these two riders can successfully defend and preserve their overall positions for the remaining stages remains to be seen but you can bet they’re going to give it a go.
You might be wondering whether we’re about to be hit by a tide of Bulgarian riders. I suspect not as I can find only two younger riders of promise. 24-year old Nikolay Mihaylov, the Bulgarian national time trial champion, has ridden for French division two team Aix-en-Provence and is now with Polish Continental squad CCC Polkowice. Look out for him later this year in the Tour of Poland. There’s also his younger compatriot, the wonderfully named Yovcho Yovchev who, at 21 years old – having shone in last year’s Tour of Romania and this year’s Tour of Mexico – is riding for Italian continental squad Amore & Vita. However he was sanctioned by the Italian federation last year and banned for three months for using ephedrine.
The Tour of Turkey started on Sunday 22nd and concludes on Sunday 29th April. Live action and highlights are being shown daily on Eurosport. For other channels check cyclingfans.com.