The articles at Cycling iQ fit into one of two core streams; the bicycle industry and road cycling in Asia. Though inextricably linked, the Tour de Taiwan once again facilitated a very visible confluence of these two streams; passing the sprawling headquarters of Merida Bicycles in Changhua County.
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 has been heavily edited. Image credits: PhotoSport International].
Today’s fifth stage covered 136.05 kilometres, with a pair each of intermediate sprints and KOM points. Lee Rodgers (RTS Racing Team), having gambled on a lengthy, but ultimately fruitless, break during stage four, once again broke away with Tanha Saeidi Abbas (AZAD University Cross Team) almost immediately after leaving the neutral zone behind.
The pair worked together for 120 kilometres, gaining a maximum time gap of 4:07. In a scene reminiscent of most of Tour de Langkawi’s ten stages, Italian ProContinental team, Androni Giocattoli, pulled the pair back with ten kilometers remaining.
As reward for his team’s preparation, Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli) lead Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Team Saxo Bank) and dual-stage winner Anothony Giacoppo (Genesys Wealth Advisers) over the line. As in previous stages, the pace was a relatively brisk 41.9km/h.
The win was a boost for Ferrari’s morale. After a productive 2011 Giro d’Italia, that saw him finishing in the top five of the bunch sprints on five occasions, Ferrari came down with glandular fever. “This was a parenthesis in my career”, he recalled. “I’ve almost lost a year and I’m starting everything from scratch again.” He went back to San Luis in January this year but wasn’t feeling good at all.
In the other jersey classifications, Feng Chun Kai (Action Cycling Team) kept seventh position overall, whilst chasing points for both the KOM jersey and Points jersey; he now leads both classifications, though only by slim margins. “The polka dot jersey remains my main goal”, said the 23 year old from Miaoli, who felt at home racing in the city where he attended Junior High School. In a humble answer, the Asian scratch race champion admitted that the fame he’s getting for riding so well at the Tour de Taiwan will not earn him as much fame as NBA basketball player Jeremy Lin, whose family hails from Changhua.
Today’s stage also passed Merida’s Taiwanese headquarters. In fact, the second intermediate sprint was positioned directly opposite the factory grounds. Whilst Merida only provides bicycles to one team at the Tour de Taiwan (Merida – Senter), it also produces the Specialized bicycles used by two other participating teams; Saxo Bank and Terengganu Cycling Team.
Race leader for the third day, Rhys Pollock – who celebrated his 32nd birthday in the yellow jersey – confirmed: “Tomorrow’s finish looks very tough. It’s a little bit unknown. With no disrespect to (second-placed) Wang Kam Po, my biggest threat is (former German national champion) Dirk Müller. He’s capable of attacking uphill and riding solo to the finish.”
Tomorrow’s stage 6 will start from the southern city of Tainan, another major bicycle manufacturing city, departing around 9:30. There are two intermediate sprints and one Category 2 (300m) KOM point at the finish. The 129 kilometre stage concludes in Guanzihling.
STAGE 5 RESULTS
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 5
1. Chun Kai Feng (Action Cycling Team) 23pts
2. Chan Jae Jang (Terengganu Cycling Team) 18pts
3. Lee Rodgers (RTS Racing Team) 13pts
1. Chun Kai Feng (Action Cycling Team) 19pts
2. Shinichi Fukushima (Terengganu Cycling Team) 16pts
3. Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocatolli) 9pts
ASIAN RIDER CLASSIFICATION
1. Kam Po Wong (Hong Kong National Team)
2. Taiji Nishitani (Japan National Team)
3. Takashi Miyazawa (Team Saxo Bank)
1. Japan National Team (JPN) @ 39:37:05
2. Androni Giocattoli (ITA) @ 39:37:09
3. Drapac Cycling (AUS) @ 39:37:16