Saxo Bank, the only ProTeam present amongst the 19 participating teams at this year’s Tour de Taiwan, today got the stage win most pundits would have expected from the first division squad. Could the delayed “inevitability” of a Saxo Bank victory hint at a shrinking qualitative gap between Asia and Europe?
[Note: As of stage 2, Cycling iQ has no longer been on-site in Taiwan. The below report and provided photos have been provided by the Tour de Taiwan organising committee. In the case of stage 2 and 3 reports, some spell-checking was applied, but the reports were otherwise left "as is" for authenticity. Today's report was almost unreadable, so it has been heavily edited. Image credits: PhotoSport International].
As the gaps within the four major classifications were narrow, no teams would lead the peloton; so countless attacks occurred instead. A 17-man break eventually separated from the bunch after 41 kilometers of racing, but was re-absorbed 13 kilometers later.
Ten kilometers prior to the Category 1 KOM (622m), a four-man breakaway formed; consisting of Shinichi Fukushima (Terengganu Cycling Team), Dean Downing (Rapha Condor Sharp), Cheng Yung-Hua (Team Senter-Merida) and Evgeny Kovalev (Rusvelo). The quartet kept a time advantage of 1min 21secs, only to be caught seven kilometers out from the finish line.
Dirk Müller (Nutrixxion Abus) attacked with three kilometers remaining, but was chased down with 800 metres to go. The Category 3 mountain finish ended with a 45-man field, with Saxo Bank rider, Jonathan Cantwell, besting the group with a devastating sprint; followed by Roberto Ferrari and Alexander Serov. The field averaged 41.6kph over 111.22 kilometers.
Although the four men didn’t make it, Fukushima gained maximum KOM points on the Category 1 climb on his way to securing the polka dot jersey.
Chun Kai Feng (Action Cycling) kept the green sprinter jersey by gaining three points today; he is currently ranked first in the competition with 23 points, followed by Korean rider, Jang Chan Jae, with 17 points. “There are KOM points in the next two stages, I will spare no effort to collect more points,” said the green jersey leader Feng.
Rhys Pollock (Drapac Cycling) will again wear the yellow leader’s jersey going into stage 5. “I gained 2 seconds time bonus by sprint points – it’s effortless to lose 2 minutes if something just doesn’t go right. I hope teammate Adam Semple can strike again in tomorrow’s Changhua Stage,” said Pollock.
Wong Kam Po kept the blue best Asian rider jersey. He also celebrated his 39th birthday during today’s Taichung stage.
Stage 5 (3/14) Changhua County race will be played out from Baguashan Budha around 9:30. Two intermediate sprints and two KOM’s feature in the 136.05km stage – the longest of the tour. Stage 5 is estimated to conclude around 13:30.
STAGE 4 RESULTS
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 4
1. Chun Kai Feng (Action Cycling Team) 23pts
2. Chan Jae Jang (Terengganu Cycling Team) 17pts
3. Takashi Miyazawa (Team Saxo Bank) 11pts
1. Shinichi Fukushima (Terengganu Cycling Team) 16pts
2. Chun Kai Feng (Action Cycling Team) 13pts
3. Behnam Khalilikhosroshahi (Tabriz Petrochemical Team) 9pts
ASIAN RIDER CLASSIFICATION
1. Kam Po Wong (Hong Kong National Team)
2. Taiji Nishitani (Japan National Team)
3. Takashi Miyazawa (Team Saxo Bank)