By Fatih Erel
ISTANBUL (AA) - Ireland's Sam Bennett won the first stage of the 55th Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey on Tuesday in the world's only cycling tour connecting the continents.
Bennett, who rides for the Bora-Hansgrohe team, won the 156.7-kilometer (97 miles) race which started in Istanbul and ended in Tekirdag.
In the world's only cycling tour connecting the continents, cyclists will also ride at the final stage in the Eurasia tunnel connecting Asia to Europe beneath the Bosphorus Strait.
The 55th edition of the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey kicked off in Istanbul on Tuesday as a part of the “UCI World Tour” calendar for the third time.
The Tour of Turkey will be held between April 16-21, with 119 cyclists from 17 teams on six stages.
Four World Tour teams are also among 17 teams which will cycle in about 1,000 km-long (621 miles) during six days.
The race has been broadcasted in 185 countries.
Organized by the Turkish Cycling Federation, the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey debuted in 1963 and became an international race two years later.
Started in 1963 as "Tour of Marmara", this year's tour follows a similar "Nostalgic" route to its first edition.
As one of Turkey's most prestigious worldwide sporting events, the 55th edition of the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey made a new start this year with its new slot in April on “UCI World Tour” calendar.
In recent years, most of the stages in the tour were used to be organized along the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts. This year, the race moved to different parts of the country in order to promote historical and natural richness of these regions through cycling as the organization has been held in the Marmara region this time.
Teams departed from Istanbul and head to Tekirdag, Eceabat, Canakkale, Edremit, Balikesir, Bursa, Sakarya and will see the ultimate finish again in Istanbul.
Stages of the 2019 tour:
April 16: Istanbul-Tekirdag (156,7 km)
April 17: Tekirdag-Eceabat (183,3 km)
April 18: Canakkale-Edremit (122,6 km)
April 19: Balikesir-Bursa (194,3 km)
April 20: Bursa-Kartepe (164,1 km)
April 21: Sakarya-Istanbul (172,4 km)
World Tour teams:
Bora Hansgrohe (Germany)
Deceuninck Quick-Step (Belgium)
Dimension Data (South Africa)
BAE Emirates (UAE)
Lotto Soudal (Belgium)
Other professional teams:
Caja Rural (Spain)
Delko Marseille Provence KTM (France)
Euskadi Murias (Spain)
Manzana Postobon (Colombia)
Neri Sottoli Selle Italy KTM (Italy)
Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizane (Italy)
Rally UHC (USA)
Sport Vlaanderen (Belgium)
W52 Porto (Portugal)