The Tour of Antalya begins today in the eponymous Mediterranean city, which is a magnet for holidaymakers. Twenty-eight cycling teams from 21 countries will compete in the second edition of the four-day event dubbed "Tour of Heaven" by organizers.
The 500-kilometer route will take cyclists to Köprülü Canyon, a national park which is more famous for watersports than cycling; Kemer, a seaside resort of the "Turkish Riviera;" the ruins of Perge, one of the most prosperous cities dating back to more than a 1,000 years, and the well-preserved ruins of Termessos, another ancient city on the Mount Güllük. It will end with a stage in Side, a resort town known for its long beaches and Greco-Roman ruins.
The four-stage race will host 168 cyclists coming from different countries around the world, including the Netherlands, Israel, Kazakhstan, Austria, as well as Turkey. National cycling teams from Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and Russia will also participate in the event. Tour director Aydın Ayhan Güney says it is Turkey's second-biggest cycling event after the Presidential Tour in the spring. "It has become more popular after the successful first edition last year. The emphasis on stages would be on the ancient cities in Antalya," he told Anadolu Agency (AA).
Dutch cyclist and versatile star Mathieu Van Der Poel will compete with the Corendon Circus team. The 24-year-old cyclist is in Antalya for the first time but would rely on his past successes, including three national cyclo-cross, road and mountain biking titles.
He is aiming for another title for his team in Antalya. "The bicycle is almost like the part of my body. I have been riding since I was 6," Van Der Poel said at a press conference yesterday.
"I will compete against some very good cyclists here and I am still not sure how good I will perform but as a team, we want to win at least one stage," he said.