During the first stage of Tour of Mesopotamia cyclists dropped from the peloton were forced to take shelter when gunfire broke out in a small village along the course.
As the 178 km leg which started and finished in Mardin, near the border with Syria, passed through a small village, some riders heard shots fired and were yelled at by locals.
Two riders of the German team Veloclub Ratisbona were accompanied by their team car when the shooting began ringing out across the road. The team’s sports director and the riders located a stone wall where they hid for 20 minutes before things calmed down.
“As they drove into the village, they suddenly heard shots falling very close and were yelled at in the town at a military crossroads. Paul put the car back and when they saw a stone wall about a meter high, he left the car on the road, the riders threw their bikes away and they dived behind the wall,” German cyclist Robert Müller said.
“There they squatted with their heads down for about 20 minutes, while repeatedly shots flew that were a little further away and sometimes threateningly close.”
“The travel warning of the Foreign Office is therefore not accidental, as we have seen unfortunately today,” concluded Müller.