Philip Deignan looks sets for a 21st place finish overall in the Tour of Turkey on a week when he has shown a return to form.
The Letterkenny rolled home in Saturday’s penultimate 123km seventh stage between Kusadasi and Izmir out of trouble, 71st in the main bunch, ahead of Sunday’s final stage in Istanbul.
Belgium’s Iljo Keisse from the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team won the sprint finish.
Deignan was also part of a three-man breakaway that led the field for over 100 kilometres the 179km sixth stage from Bodrum to Kusadasi on Friday. Fifty kilometres in a group of 16 riders broke clear of the peloton, including Deignan.
There were a number of riders in this group who posed a serious threat to the overall lead of Bulgarian Ivaïlo Gabrovski of the Konya Torku Seker Spor team, including Romain Bardet of AG2R-La Mondiale and Alexandr Dyachenko from Astana.
Deignan weighed up the probability of the group being allowed to stay away with these riders present and joined a further attack, along with Maxim Belkov from Katusha and Michal Golas of OmegaPharma-Quickstep.
At one point the trip were five minutes in front of the main field but were reeled in with eight kilometres left.
In the sprint, the dash to the line was won by the young Italian Sacha Modolo from Colnago-CSF Inox, who narrowly defeated the big names of Matt Goss of GreenEdge and Rabobank’s Mark Renshaw. Deignan finished the stage 24 seconds later, in 71st place.
The 2008 Olympian has insisted one of his season’s aims this year is to compete at next month’s Tour of California. The 28-year-old, who is in his first year with the UnitedHealthcare team, has got over a stomach bug and is currently in 21st position in Turkey, thanks mainly to a good showing on Tuesday’s mountainous stage, a 153km trek into Antalya.
Gabrovski leads the overall classification, five minutes and 32 seconds ahead of the Deignan. On Thursday, Deignan came home in the main field, one minute and 27 seconds behind solo winner, Italy’s Andrea Di Corrado from the Colnago-CSF Inox team.
“The main goal is coming up in a few weeks’ time in California,” Deignan said this week. “We have three strong guys on the team and there’s a possibility to be up there in the general classification.”