Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel were edged out by Jasper Philipsen on stage seven of the Tour of Turkey, the German taking second place ahead of his old rival.
The two veteran sprinters had to be separated by a photo finish, as Philipsen opened up his sprint on the run-in to the line and was too strong to let anyone around him in the downhill sprint.
Israel Start-Up Nation had taken the initiative on the front leading into the final few kilometres, Alex Dowsett put to work for Greipel after Cavendish had let Shane Archbold hit out solo to try and steal the win for Deceuninck – Quick-Step.
Into the long downhill stretch to the finish and it was to be a bunch sprint, however, with Greipel unable to move off Philipsen’s wheel and contest the win, while Cavendish moved out from the German’s slipstream as he charged for the line, but was just pipped in the photo finish.
Philipsen takes his second consecutive stage win of the race, having finished runner-up behind Cavendish in the three straight stages won by the Manxman.
Greipel has now finished second twice in two days, as he joins Cavendish in experiencing a rejuvenation of the pair’s sprinting talents. This is the highest placing the German has managed since the 2019 GP Stad Zottegem, his last win being six months previously at La Tropicale Amissa Bongo in January 2019. The 38-year-old recently announced he plans to retire at the end of the 2022 season.
With his trio of victories in Turkey, Cavendish has closed to within seven victories of Greipel, the Brit having 149 to Greipel’s 156. The German currently holding the most wins of any active rider, Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde currently in third with 128.
One stage remains in Turkey, what looks like another day for the sprinters should they stay in contact over the category 2 climb 20km for the finish, 1.6km in length with an average gradient of 8.3 per cent.
Alpecin-Fenix’s Jay Vine cleverly closed to within a second of José Diaz’s (DELKO) overall lead by taking bonus seconds on offer during the stage, meaning the general classification is still all to play for on the final day, Eduardo Sepúlveda (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) currently sitting in third, six seconds in arrears.