47th Presidential Tour of Turkey – Denizli to Fethiye

Yesterday was Stage 5 of the 47th Presidential Tour of Turkey: Denizli to Fethiye.

This is the third year in a row that we have watched cyclists taking part in the Presidential Tour of Turkey road race arrive in Fethiye and, even after showing an interest in the televised sections and watching the end of the race live, I just don’t get long distance bike racing.

Tour of Turkey Finish Line, Fethiye

Tour of Turkey finish line, Fethiye

Yesterday’s plan was to watch the cyclists leave Denizli on TV and enjoy watching the Turkish scenery for a few hours. This is Turkey. The cameramen are as interested in showing the the beauty of their country as they are in showing the cyclists struggling to the top of mountains. It’s good viewing…except the snooker was on. No bikes!

The coverage finally came on when there were 53 kilometres left to go – time for us to leave the house to get to the finish line.

A close-up of a tortoise hiding in his shell filled the screen and the commentator suggested the cameraman probably put it there to show tortoises in Turkey; his evidence being that the tortoise was in his shell and had therefore just been handled.

Whilst this would not surprise us in any way, it’s also fair to assume that the tortoise was wondering what the heck it had stumbled into as scores of bikes, cars and a couple of helicopters disturbed its previously peaceful road crossing.

Presidential Tour of Turkey Scenes in Fethiye

Presidential Tour of Turkey – Fethiye finish line

By the time we got to the centre of Fethiye, we were told the bikes were already heading for Çalış. Not much time to find a good speck for watching – and the crowds were quite full. We looked up, hoping for a cafe terrace with a good view of the finish line and even tested one out.

No good, but no time to lose. We would just have to grab a spot and catch what we could on camera.

Apart from the press arriving and a few heads in the way, we managed to catch the winning group pedalling furiously towards the finish line. We clapped and cheered for the 50 seconds you can see on the video – and then we needed to wait for the trailing group.

More and more press were making themselves comfortable right in front of us so our eyes again scanned the higher levels.

We’d watched the winners pass the line so we headed to Kasara’s third floor roof terrace, ordered a cold beer and I dangled over the balcony railings, waiting for the other riders.

Tour of Turkey, Stage 5 Race Finish in Fethiye

Tour of Turkey, Stage 5 race finish in Fethiye – It’s a lot of bikes

15 minutes or so after the winner crossed the line, the trailing group followed, they stopped, they had drinks and team chats. Cars with bikes performed three point turns and within half an hour, they were gone.

Tour of Turkey Bike Race, Fethiye, Turkey

The Tour of Turkey clear-up operation in Fethiye

The clear-up operation started and Fethiye was soon back to normal, as if nothing had happened. And that’s what I don’t get. Long distance cycling is just not a spectator sport. The cyclists must do it purely for the love of pushing themselves to the limit.

Hours of riding through the mountains, a quick cheer at the end and they all go off to their hotel. For the spectators – they get to see a lot of bikes.

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  1. I think it is like an achievement for the cyclists but I am envious anyway because too many fags and beer means I can not even cycle 200 metres!! Great pictures!

  2. @ Natalie: Thanks. It’s amazing how super-fit they must be to be able to cycle for so long over the space of a few days and then it just seems a bit lame at the end when we give a quick clap and all go straight back home. 🙂 But I’m not sure there’s another alternative.

  3. Definitely not a spectator sport. It’s like watching a marathon with bikes; though for me even more interesting than golf 😛

  4. @ Anil: Golf is just horrendous! Fully agreed – the bikes are more interesting – if only for a fleeting moment. 🙂

  5. Oh, we have similar event called Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia.
    I think cycling is quite popular in Malaysia.
    In particular, mountain biking.

  6. @ London Caller: It’s a really good event for showcasing Turkey – just not brilliant for the spectators. Great to see the cyclists arriving but it’s over so quickly.

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