Following a ceremonial circuit of Tainan’s City Hall, the 85 starters competing in today’s sixth Tour de Taiwan stage would traverse a rolling 100 kilometres, before transitioning into a moderate final climb (300m elevation) with a steep pure-sprinter-unfriendly pinch at the end.
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. Reports for stages 4 and 5 were heavily edited, as is todays. Image credits: PhotoSport International].
Lee Rodgers (RTS Racing Team) pushed the “replay” button from the previous two days; once again attacking once the stage went live. The veteran English rider worked alongside Alireza Haghi (Azad University Cross Team) and Anuar Manan (Champion System) for 120 kilometres, eventually building a time advantage of four minutes.
Having started the day third (with 13 points) in the overall points classification, Rodgers sought to yield maximum points from the two intermediate sprints (at 18km and 80km, respectively) to tie with Chun Kai Feng (Action Cycling Team, 23 points). No doubt assisted by an accord with his fellow breakaway companions – neither were in contention for the points jersey, and Manan is a superior sprinter – the 40-year old Englishman met his objective. In hindsight, Rodgers’ achievement would be the individual highlight amongst the trio, as they were caught with three kilometres of racing remaining.
As Rodgers, Alireza and Manan went backwards, Japan’s National team positioned a majority of its squad into contention for the uphill sprint. However, something else was stirring in the bunch. Having begun the “morning in my bed, feeling ill”, Victor Corridor (Azad University Cross Team) eventually discovered his legs, attacking from 700 meters out. Corridor bested Yusuke Hatanaka (Japan National team) and fast-finisher Adiq Othman (Champion System) at the line by a comfortable margin.
“I had nothing to lose”, the 39 year old Colombian explained following his stage victory. “I was so tired (at the beginning of the stage) that I had no morale. I thought I wasn’t going to start. Once I got on my bike, I was better and then, I went to the front with 1km to go where my team-mates from Azad University told me it would become hilly.”
“I probably jumped one hundred metres too late”, lamented runner up Hatanaka. “It’s a good result for me and for the Japanese national team as well. We were three up the front and we increase our lead in the teams’ classification; but my main feeling is still one of huge disappointment. I thought I could come across to Niño and pass him. What a pity.”
With no further KOM points on offer tomorrow, Chun Kai Feng – now second in the overall points classification, having been succeeded by Rodgers on a countback – has secured the polka dot jersey with 19 points; 3 points ahead of Terengganu Cycling Team’s Shinichi Fukushima. Feng is still strongly positioned to take both the KOM and points jerseys. Should that transpire, it will be the best result by a Taiwanese cyclist at a UCI 2.1 event. “Tomorrow I will try to collect more points, but green and polka dot jerseys don’t fully satisfy my thrust, one day I will take the yellow,” said Feng.
Rhys Pollock (Drapac) retained the lead on a terrain that [CiQ: according to the author of the original race report] didn’t suit his physique. With one day to go, the highly respected road captain of Drapac eyes the first stage race victory of his career. Kam Po Wong leads the Best Asian Rider classification, a mere two seconds behind Pollock in the general classificaton.
“The race is not over yet”, warned Wang. “Tomorrow I have three chances to get the time bonus I need to get the yellow jersey.” Pollock remembered that in the past, his Drapac team went into the last stage with a lead of six seconds and lost the yellow jersey on the last day. “It’s never over”, said the Australian. “Kam Po is an extremely quality rider. We’ll pay a lot of attention.” Sprinters Jonathan Cantwell from Saxo Bank and Roberto Ferrari from Androni also have the intention to keep the overall rankings unchanged on the final day of the Tour de Taiwan in Kaohsiung.
Tomorrow’s 126 kilometre final stage, around Kaohsiung City, features two climbs; though neither appears destined to create the kind of bunch fragmentation that could turn the race on its head. However, there is every possibility that a new race leader and wearer of the green points jersey could mount the podium at the race’s conclusion.
STAGE 6 RESULTS
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 6
1. Lee Rodgers (RTS Racing Team) 23pts
2. Chun Kai Feng (Action Cycling Team) 23pts
3. Chan Jae Jang (Terengganu Cycling Team) 18pts
1. Chun Kai Feng (Action Cycling Team) 19pts
2. Shinichi Fukushima (Terengganu Cycling Team) 16pts
3. Victor Corridor (Azad University Cross Team) 15pts
ASIAN RIDER CLASSIFICATION
1. Kam Po Wong (Hong Kong National Team)
2. Taiji Nishitani (Japan National Team)
3. Chun Kai Feng (Action Cycling Team)
1. Japan National Team (JPN) @ 49:09:15
2. Androni Giocattoli (ITA) @ 49:09:51
3. Drapac Cycling (AUS) @ 49:10:19