Grzegorz Stępniak nearly missed out on the podium on stage 7 of Tour of Turkey, as he finished right behind the top 3. Another “rider in orange” Leszek Pluciński made his presence known in the breakaway of the day.
The penultimate stage of Tour of Turkey featured undulating terrain and a not that easy climb just 6km from the finish. In the previous years the race to Marmaris would be often decided in a bunch sprint finish though, so it was hard to write any scenario for the stage.
Beginning of the stage was very lively, as the group of riders who tried to break clear was quite large. Leszek Pluciński was one of the most aggressive attackers and eventually his effort paid off, when his 5-man group managed to get a gap. CCC Sprandi Polkowice rider, alongside David Belda (Roth), Paweł Cieślik (Verva ActiveJet), Florian Gaugl (Team Hrinkow Advarics Cycleang) and Bram Nolten (Parkhotel Valkenburg CT) established a 4:20 lead.
The cooperation in the escape was not going very well inside the final 30 kilometers. The escapees were attacking each other and nobody was able to go clear. Peloton took advantage of that and reduced the gap to 45 seconds with 19km to go. 3 kilometers later it was all over for Pluciński and the rest of the attackers.
The last climb, with the top 7km from the finish, saw a brutal selection caused by few teams. Grzegorz Stępniak and most of the CCC Sprandi Polkowice managed to stay in the main field and “riders in orange” made sure, that none of the rivals gets a gap in the descent and flat finale.
It came down to a bunch sprint and again in Tour of Turkey Grzegorz Stępniak was among the fastest. He fought for the right position on a twisty, narrow streets of Marmaris and kicked off the sprint from 4-5 place. At the end he crossed the line as 4th. That was his fourth top 10 spot in the Turkish stage event.
Sacha Modolo (Lampre Merida) grabbed the win, beating Manuel Belletti (Southeast – Venezuela) and Marco Zanotti (Parkhotel Valkenburg CT).