Amidst a top-quality field that includes four ProContinental teams, and with the absence of defending champion Rhys Pollock, Australia’s Drapac Cycling team is guaranteed a challenging week ahead if it wishes to focus its efforts on the general classification prize for a second successive year in this year’s Tour de Taiwan.
TOUR DE TAIWAN BACKGROUNDER
Pollock’s victory in 2012 was skin-of-the-teeth, LeMond-1986-Tour-de-France-winning-margin, close; a mere two seconds over Hong Kong’s Wong Kam Po, in fact. Pollock’s journey to yellow began with a third place in the first stage and continued to improve, thanks to a mixture of consistent front-running and initially high-ranked GC riders falling back as stages were ticked off.
A preview of last year’s course and more background on the event itself can be found here.
March is a cooler month in Taiwan, and it is far less humid than the summer months. Last year’s race witnessed a reasonable dumping of rain. However, the outlook for the week ahead looks sunny with daytime temperatures ranging between 20-28°C.
One of the great disappointments about Tour de Taiwan is that it never really strays from its flattish, host-city formula, despite the availability of some phenomenal climbing off the well-beaten west-coast track. However, this is one of the modern-day quandaries in professional cycling; for a race to be viable, it needs to be financially sound. Inevitably, this requires a race organiser to provide opportunity for sponsorship dollars to be leveraged. Often, it’s easier to achieve the desired metrics in the bubble of urban density.
There are three Category 1 climbs but they have to be taken into context. None even come close to 1,000m elevation, and individual stage duration is kept within reasonable limits.
Teams must have a minimum of four, and maximum of six, riders and four officials. Unlike last year, when Saxo Bank was invited, no ProTeams will be starting this year. Saxo finished outside the major placings in all classifications in 2012, so perhaps the Tour de Taiwan organiser calculated the opportunity cost of a ProTeam appearance; whatever the background maths, there is one more ProContinental team and two more Continental teams than last year.
Four jerseys will be awarded at the conclusion of each stage:
Leader of General Classification – Yellow
Leader of Points Classification – Green
Leader of Best Asian Rider Individual Classification – Blue
Leader of King of the Mountains Classification – Polka Dot
To be updated once race manual is in hand:
Overall winner (individual) = USD
Overall team = USD
Overall Points = USD
Stage winner = USD
Best Asian Rider (overall individual) = USD
*as at today’s exchange rates
It’s always reassuring when a race’s official website is ready ahead of time with key race information and content quality which at least complements the aesthetic. In this way, the Tour de Taiwan official website certainly delivers. Social media users will be happy to know that the Tour de Taiwan Facebook is already filing regular pre-race updates; experienced race reporter and journalist Jean-François Quénet will be providing live-text updates, as he has done in an official capacity at Tour de Langkawi for many years.
Perhaps most exciting is the iPhone/iPad link, which promises a live race feed, images, video, stage information and lots more. Do yourself a favour and download it from iTunes.
Cycling iQ is on the media list, so stage results, images and reports will be filed and/or tweeted around day-job commitments at Taipei Cycle Show, which runs concurrent with the race every year.
STAGES AND PROFILES
Stage 1 | Dapeng Bay, 156km
Monday, 18 March 2013 (starts 09:00 local time)
Stage 2 | Tainan City, 137km
Tuesday, 19 March 2013 (starts 10:00 local time)
Stage 7 | New Taipei City, 58km
Sunday, 24 March 2013 (starts 08:30 local time)