Efimkin moved from third to holding a comfortable 1:13 advantage with two relatively flat stages to go to close out the 47th Turkey tour. Rubens Bertogliati and Laszlo Bodrogi worked at the front of a sizable and strong bunch to drop the race leaders and jump to the top step of the podium.
Efimkin, from Russia, finished second in a close sprint on Thursday, and said he spent the night tossing and turning, pondering a missed chance at a stage victory.
“I was having trouble sleeping all night because I lost yesterday. I would nod off, then jolt awake and think - ‘Damn, I lost.’ When I woke up this morning – well … I still lost yesterday. But I was ready to go for stage six,” Efimkin said. “We got to the climbs and the first two guys on GC fell off the pace, they couldn’t hold the speed. There were some attacks at the front to split the group up further, but it in the end it was Rubens Bertogliati and Laszlo Bodrogi leading the pack and drilling it for the line. The team is so strong, and I’ll sleep well tonight.”
Team Type 1 - sanofi-aventis General Manager Vassili Davidenko said teamwork and an advantageous combination of riders in the front group made for a decisive move to drop the two leading riders on GC.
“Laszlo was up in the break, and Aleks was looking at the two guys ahead of him on GC to see if they could hold on the climb. Rubens was there and as soon as they saw that they couldn’t hold the pace, it was mano a mano,” Davidenko said. “Plus FDJ and Astana had an interest in making a podium switch. All respects are due to the Garmin and Liquigas guys for riding as hard as they did and keeping the gap in check for as long as they did against 12 guys from three teams. This was a beautiful stage with a terrific view on an epic sea coast, and in the end we came out on top - you couldn’t ask for more.”
If Efimkin can hold on, it will be the first major victory for Team Type 1 in Europe since it expanded its program coming into the 2011 season.
Belletti used his experience from previous starts at the Turkey tour to pace to victory in a photo-finish against compatriot Roberto Ferrari to win by a wheel-length. With time bonuses, Belletti takes a narrow lead in the overall standings.
“I know this stage from my previous times I’ve been here and it’s my favourite stage, so I am very glad I could stay near the front and sprint to victory,” Belletti said. “I dedicate this to my team because of the great help they gave me. You can never win in cycling without the help of the entire team.”
The victory is Belletti’s third of the year and comes just ahead of the season’s major goal at the Giro d’Italia.
Belletti, a winner of a stage in last year’s Giro, said he will try to defend his narrow four-second lead, but doesn’t want to risk going too deep before the Giro, set to start May 7 in Torino.
“Every day this race has a new leader. I didn’t come here for riding GC but now I’ll try to keep the turquoise jersey, but if I happen to lose it, I hope it’ll go to one of my team-mates,” Belletti said. “I hope to do well at the beginning of the Giro d’Italia because some stages suit me in the first two weeks, so I’m here in Turkey to go hard, but I also don’t want to arrive cooked at the Giro. So we’ll see how it goes tomorrow but at least I intend to be present in the coming sprints of the Tour of Turkey.”
The 47th Turkey tour continues Wednesday with the 209km stage from Marmaris to Pamukkale. The hilly stage will be hard to control and should see the major GC contenders move to the front of the action.
“The sprint was pretty nasty and with a lot of dangerous moves by many riders. I started my sprint early with about 250m to go, but unfortunately wasn’t able to hold it. The team marked the yellow jersey all day, especially Aleksei Shmidt, but the climb wasn’t as hard as we expected and there was no change on the general classification,” Bazzana said.
Team Type 1’s Will Dugan remains in third place overall, eight seconds back from Austrian rider Markus Eibegger. The team has shown strong form in each stage so far, with Dugan in second place on the first day, Bazzana fourth on stage two, and Scott Stewart third on stage three.
Thursday is a rest day, with racing set to resume on Friday over 192km north from Taebaek to Yangyang on the Sea of Japan.
Voeckler out-smarted Italian ace Michele Scarponi to claim the stage finishing up an explosive final climb that saw the pack break up under pressure from the attacks. Scarponi slipped into the overall leader’s jersey while Voeckler moved into the top-5 overall after his sixth win on the 2011 campaign for the French nation champion. A four-man breakaway was swept up coming into the final decisive climb and Voeckler had the legs to follow the attacking Scarponi. The pair carved a 30-second lead on the chasing leaders and Voeckler kicked his way to another huge win for Colnago.
Colnago-CSF Inox had another strong outing as well, with Domenico Pozzovivo riding in with the front group to climb into seventh overall at 31 seconds back.
The four-day Trentino tour continues Thursday with the 170km third stage from Molino di Ledro to Fai della Paganella. The mountainous course includes three first-category climbs, with 11km final summit finish with ramps as steep as 7 percent.
Jérôme earned his first win on the 2011 campaign in spectacular fashion. Europcar was active throughout the race, with Cyril Gautier and Tony Hurel attacking early to put the pressure on the opposing teams. Jérôme was the team’s final card and he bridged up to an earlier move, then dropped everyone except Canadian Will Routley. The pair came to the line and Jérôme executed the perfect sprint to claim the flowers.
“It was a flawless performance today. The entire team rode to perfection,” said Europcar sport director Peter Guével. “This is well-deserved. He’s been racing well for quite awhile and we knew it would only be a matter of time before he could win.”
The victory is the 13th for Europcar on the 2011 season and the first for Jérôme since the 2007 season.
Savini attacked with a vengeance with two kilometers to go up the first-category summit to the Laguna de los Peces that none of the overall favorites could answer. He caught the wheel of riders from an earlier breakaway and then soloed home the victory seven seconds ahead of new leader Bauke Mollema.
Domenica Pozzovivo capped off the superb performance by Colnago-CSF Inox to cross the line third with the same time as Mollema and slotted into fourth overall at 6 seconds back.
“I could sense the others were watching each other and decided to attack,” Savini said. “I managed to make a nice gap and that made me even push harder. I am very content with the victory. It pays back the hard work of the team this week.”
The victory is Savini’s first since the 2008 season and the third for Colnago-CSF Inox of 2011.
Pozzovivo, meanwhile, will have a chance to secure a final podium spot if he can have a strong performance in the short, 11.4km individual time trial in Saturday’s fourth stage.
David Gaudin and Canadian David Veilleux rode fantastically in the 258km battle over the cobblestones. Veilleux pulled clear in the day’s early break and then Gaudin bridged out after coming through the treacherous Arenberg sector of cobbles.
Gaudin held on to finish 16th while Veilleux was 25th in his Roubaix debut at 3:45 back.
“We wanted to have a rider present in the break, so to have two of us there was a success already,” Veilleux said. “It was really hard to get into the break. Everything was getting chased down. I made a few efforts before one finally worked. I am satisfied in my first Roubaix, but I was really suffering in the end.”
Gaudin and Veilleux were in good company, because Johan Van Summeren attacked out of their group to claim a solo victory in cycling’s most punishing one-day race.
“Overall, I am content with the performance,” Gaudin said. “When Van Summeren attacked, I tried to follow, but he was too strong. I entered the velodrome riding for seventh place, so I am a little unhappy about my sprint. At the end of a long effort like that, it’s a question of who has the legs. This was my third Roubaix and my best one as a professional. It makes me more motivated for the future.”
Up next is Amstel Gold Race on April 17 over the steep hills of south Holland.
The 36-year-old Scheirlinckx earned his first victory since 2002 in a daring four-man breakaway that held on to challenge for the spoils in the 199.2km race.
The Belgian veteran used his savvy to fend off Marco Marcato in a long sprint to claim the most important victory of his career.
“I was disappointed at the Tour of Flanders because I missed the group of favourites. Despite the disappointment, I knew the legs were good,” he said. “In the breakaway today, I knew right away that the most dangerous would be Marcato. To win, I had to use all of my experience. That’s why I tried to surprise Marcato with a long sprint.”
The victory is the third on the 2011 season for Landbouwkrediet.
Kocjan finished second at the Fleche d’Emeraude on April 3 just days after the team lost all its bicycles, spare parts, equipment and tools on the final day of a stage race in Italy when unknown thieves broke into locked vehicles overnight and stole an estimated 500,000 euros worth of equipment.
“I was following a FDJ rider to his right, but he moved my way and I had to come around his left side. I was faster, but with the delay the Cofidis rider came up the middle and beat me to the line. We had a tough week after Coppi e Bartali, and it’s very nice for the team and staff to have a good finish after all the hard work,” said Kocjan. “We want to win, that’s our goal, but to be back at this level as quickly as we did shows how hard everybody worked to get the team on its feet.”
The team’s European squad continues this week with the Circuit de la Sarthe in France, April 5-8.