The British neo-pro made significant inroads in the general classification after concluding fourth on the race's only summit finish.
For the fifth consecutive year, the Tour of Turkey featured a stage to Selçuk, which finished atop the famous Mount Nightingale, a stone throw's away from the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, built more than 2 500 years ago.
Iljo Keisse, a stage victor in Izmir at the 2012 edition, was part of a breakaway group that moved clear after a fast and frantic start. The experienced Belgian mopped up the points at the two intermediate sprints, while at the same time helping the group increase the lead to three minutes, before an injection of pace in the bunch saw the chasers eat into their advantage and overhaul them in the run-in to the second-category ascent.
The opening kilometers of the 6km-long climb were the easiest, with the gradient stiffening in the second part, where attacks came despite the strong headwind, as several riders were keen on trying to make the difference early. Always attentive and calm, neo-pro James Knox stayed out of the wind and rode at his own tempo, moving through the field towards the front of the bunch only inside the final kilometer, as more and more riders who had burned their matches early were being dropped.
First to open the sprint was Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), only three men being capable of responding to the Italian's fast turn of legs, as the other riders got distanced. One of these was James, who rose from the saddle with 200 meters remaining and came close to his maiden podium on World Tour level, finishing fourth on the same time as Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), the day's winner and new overall leader.
"The headwind made it really difficult to make a difference today and it the end it came down to who had the strongest kick. I gave all I had, but I couldn't close the gap to the three guys up the road, so I'm a bit disappointed it all came down to a kick. I needed a harder race in the final to get a chance of testing the legs.
The 22-year-old Brit – best placed Quick-Step Floors rider in the GC of the penultimate World Tour stage race of the season – is keen on building on this result in the next months: "The sensation that I had today on the ascent, being there among the best climbers, gives me a lot of motivation going into the off-season to begin the next one in a good shape as well. It's probably one of the nicest experiences of the year and getting the chance of showing what I can do is really great for the confidence."
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