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An opportunity to push the sport into the spotlight
Yes, a cycling tour in Turkey has a lot of potential. But the race hasn't fulfilled that potential.

It was on a good way, until and including 2015: A route that was sprinter-friendly but also with a mountaintop finish, placed in a similar place before the Giro as the Dauphiné or Tour de Suisse is before the Tour, and with an organisation that was praised all around and attracted a number of WT teams. Then some mugwump decided to commission a new race organisation from the 2016 edition onwards, and things went downhill from there.

For many years, there had been between 6 and 9 WT teams on the startlist of 20+ teams, with the rest being ProConti teams plus the one Turkish Conti team. In 2016 (still at the late April calendar slot), there were 13 teams, of which only two were WT. 8 were ProConti, the remaining 6 were Conti.

For 2017 and its first edition on the WorldTour, the race was moved to an unattractive October slot at short notice in the aftermath of the Turkey coup attempt. WT participation increased again to 4 of 13 teams (plus ProContis and a Turkish national team). Someone must have realised that this just wouldn't be enough to keep WT status, so in 2018, there were 9 WT teams out of 20 (the rest ProContis + Turkish national team). The 2019 edition was back in the optimal late April slot, but this also meant overlap with many more races than in October - resulting in 6 WT teams out of a total of 17 (the rest being ProContis + Turkish national team).

I've collated the startlists all the way back to 2011:
Year WT PCT CT *tr
2011 (HC) 6 14 2
2012 (HC) 9 14 2
2013 (HC) 9 15 1
2014 (HC) 9 10 1
2015 (HC) 6 14 1
2016 (HC) 2 8 5 1
2017 (WT) 4 8 1
2018 (WT) 9 10 1
2019 (WT) 6 10 1

The startlist is objectively not as high-profile as it was five years ago - and that's even after a couple of years of recovery from 2016. And yet, the race is now one category higher than it was pre-2017. That simply does not make sense.

I don't know the exact reasons why this is so - the race not offering the same good (financial and infrastructural) conditions to teams anymore? Teams/riders not wanting to come to Turkey? Calendar clashes? Most likely it's a combination of all those.

Demoting it to HC status[1] is the logical conclusion, even notwithstanding that a 'new' WT race has to have at least 10 participating WT teams to keep its status.
 1. which we probably should call PS status, in the same way we should say Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
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  • Cyclingnews Women's WorldTour Correspondent
    2017 0711|CYCLING PR Manager; 2016 Stölting Content Editor
    Views presented are my own. RIP Keith & Sean


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