From bomb shelter to podium: Ukrainian cyclist Vitaliy Buts takes coveted white jersey in Turkey

35-year-old cyclist thanks Turkey for supporting Ukraine and accepting his fellow countryman amid brutal war

10:39 - 12/04/2022 Salı
Ukrainian cyclist Vitaliy Buts
Ukrainian cyclist Vitaliy Buts

Ukrainian cyclist Vitaliy Buts has lived a real-life epic story starting from war-torn Ukraine to pumping the pedals to capture the points lead and waving his country's flag in the ongoing Tour of Turkey.

Buts was awarded the white points leader jersey on Sunday after the first stage of the 57th Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey.

After raising his country's flag at the ceremony, Buts, competing for the Turkish professional road bicycle racing team Sakarya BB Pro Team, spoke to Anadolu Agency.

On getting the coveted white jersey, Buts said: "There was a plan to take the jersey before the first stage. Our job was difficult, but we were awarded the white jersey and used the tactics our coach asked for. We’ll continue to use them in the next stages."

"The stages are difficult this year,” he commented. “Good teams compete in the tournament. We want to represent the Turkish team in the best possible way. We want to win more jerseys."

The 35-year-old cyclist thanked Turkey for its support for Ukraine and accepting his fellow Ukrainians who have fled the war, which is now in its seventh week.

- ‘When the war is over, I want to go home and see my parents’

Buts said he is riding for his country and that when the war ends, he wants to return to Ukraine.

He was visibly upset about the situation in his country, where his elderly parents have remained due to their age.

"I will stay in Turkey until the war is over. I hope the war ends as soon as possible,” he added.

“When the war is over, I want to go to Ukraine and see my parents. I read the news about my country every day. The situation is very bad."

On waving the Ukrainian flag on the podium, Buts said: "I’m proud to carry my flag on the podium, and tears came out of my eyes.”

- Journey from shelter to podium

During the interview, Buts, who emerged from a bomb shelter in his country to take the podium of the Tour of Turkey, was emotional and unable to hold back his tears.

Buts told more of his story, from before his departing his country amid a war to compete and raise awareness of Ukraine’s plight abroad.

"When the war started, we woke up at 4 am. We woke up to the sound of bombs in the city of Mykolaiv,” in southern Ukraine, he said.

“We went to a safer village 100 kilometers (28 miles) from home with my wife and children without taking any clothes. We moved into a shelter when the sirens sounded.

“Since I ride for the Turkish team, I waited for a week with my special permission. After that, I was able to come to Turkey with my family and I joined the race (Tour of Turkey) without training for three weeks."

- ‘People are dying and the whole world is watching’

Calling on the international community to "end the war as soon as possible," Buts said: "Some of the cities in Ukraine were destroyed. People are dying, the whole world is watching. There is such a war in Ukraine – a European country. Russia attacked us and Russia is the guilty (party)."

He said he is ready to give all available support from Turkey to his country.

"I’m working to win more awards and support the Ukrainian army. I wanted to give good news to my friends in Ukraine, to my parents with the good performance (I had) in the race."

#57th Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey
#Ukrainian cyclist
#Vitaliy Buts
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