Turkey - a country that stands for many Germans for one thing in particular: summer vacation, beautiful beaches, hotels and relaxation. According to Handelsblatt, Turkey ranks fifth among the most popular holiday destinations for Germans in pre-Corona times 2019 on the same level as the Canary Islands in fourth place.
In particular, the region around Antalya on the beautiful Turkish Riviera attracts many people with long sandy beaches but also with ancient buildings from the Roman Empire. Cycling is also becoming more and more important and has a special position, especially in the region around Antalya. A lot is being invested in expanding the cycling infrastructure in order to expand cycling tourism. The neighbouring Taurus Mountains with its climbs and narrow roads are literally ideal.
Events such as the Tour of Turkey, the Tour of Antalya and other races in the Antalya and Alanya region are part of the UCI's racing calendar and are enjoying great interest. Many teams come to Turkey and present themselves to an enthusiastic audience and also compete with local athletes. But so far, a team from Europe has never integrated an athlete from Turkey and given him the opportunity to prove his skills outside of Turkey.
From the 2022 season, Halil Dogan, the reigning Turkish U23 time trial champion, will wear the BIKE AID jersey and compete in races around the world with the team.
“After several participations in important races in Turkey, as well as the grown partnership with Corendon Airlines, headquartered in Antalya, a stronger connection with our friends in Turkey has developed over the past few years. So we asked ourselves why none of the athletes from Turkey had gotten a real chance so far and we intensified our contact with Halil and now we want to change that,” said Timo Schäfer, one of the team founders.
But who is this young man from Turkey? The 21-year-old Halil Dogan grew up in a small town called Kütahya with a 5,000-year history that is right in the middle of the road from Istanbul to Antalya. He still lives there with his four siblings and his parents, but in winter he is attracted more by the sun in Antalya, where he can work on his shape in pleasant temperatures. As a little boy, Halil played soccer, but at the age of 12 he discovered the “cycling fever” in school and from then on soccer was forgotten and the bike played the central role in Halil's life: “I've been dreaming about it since I was a child to start one day in the Tour de France or the Giro d'Italia. But us riders in Turkey rarely or never get a chance to show ourselves, ”explains Halil. “I've always worked hard on myself, always trained well in order to get closer and closer to my dream. I want to show now that cyclists from Turkey can also be strong. Thanks to BIKE AID, I now have the opportunity to do so, for which I am very grateful“ says Halil Dogan, who completed his high school in Turkey and would now like to pursue his dream first.
“We are curious to see how Halil will develop in Europe, but we are convinced that he will have everything to be able to survive even in difficult races, for example in France. He is a very pleasant character and will definitely fit well in the team and we hope to be able to help him in his further development,” said Timo Schäfer in conclusion.