Mikhel Raim of ISRAEL START UP NATION sprinted to his first victory of the season in the opening stage of the Tour of Antalya today. He beat out the other sprinters in the first stage of the four day race in Turkey (2.1) and heads into stage 2 in the race lead.
Days before he reflected on his goals for the race: “I expect us to bring in good results. The level here is for sure higher this year and there’s going to be real racing here,” Raim said. “For sure we aim for podium spots and the best would be a stage win, but without stress.”
In the opening stage the goals for the race have been achieved.
The race was really nervous, it was the first race of the season for a lot of the teams and they want to prove themselves. There were a lot of crashes and you had to be really, really careful in the peloton,” Miku said.
Two riders got away early and stayed a way much of the stage but the bunch sprint was as if pre-destine. The IsraelSUN riders kept a tight control on things. “We just keep the pace not too high, not too low.”
Then the sprint plan was put into effect. “The last km, Ben Perry and Daniel Turek did their one minute pulls. Itamar and Norman screened me in the pack. They closed the left, closed the right, so the other teams couldn't pass us. In the last 500 meters Norman took it over, he was really good and I could get a good draft behind him. I launched my sprint and then he screened to take me on the right a little bit so the others couldn't pass me.
“It was a wonderful feeling! Now I have the leaders jersey”
Looking forward, stage Two sees an early Cat. 3 climb along the way from Kemer to Antalya, but it is expected to end with another bunch sprint.
The first real climb comes at the end of Stage Three. After about 90 km of mostly flat, the peloton will charge 9 km up the Cat. 1 climb to the finish at Termessos. The race ends with another one for the fast men, 136 km from Side to Antalya, and a final bunch sprint.
He expects to hang on to the jersey for one more stage, and hopes then to pass it on to a teammate. “The third stage, with a climbing finish, is too hard for me. We play our GC card of Matteo Badilatti there.”
“I think we have a good vibe in the team and I have now shown to everyone that I haven't lost my sprint and ability to win. I'm really happy!”