2012 Tour de Taiwan stage 1 Taipei City

For the last three days, bicycle industry “suits” (polo shirts, really) have existed within a rigid framework of hotels, exhibitions and client dinner parties – all driven by the blinkered focus of dealmaking. Until now, there had been no escape. But today, they could choose the red pill.

Following a later-than-the-previous-three-days breakfast, I watched as the shirts boarded the 08:30 bus that would shuttle them to the final day of Taipei Cycle show. I wondered, briefly, what new things – if any – they might see today within the same walls. With backpack and camera tugging firmly against my shoulders, I walked purposefully towards stage one of the Tour de Taiwan. A UCI 2.1 pro cycling stage race was taking place only 20 minutes from my hotel. A circuit race. Free to watch. A no-brainer.

The race start, scheduled for 08:30am, was appallingly early by European road cycling standards – it’s very rare to see a rider’s Twitter feed expanding at 06:00am. Wet roads and 12°C greeted the 94 starters lining up outside the Taipei City Hall. Five laps of a 10.4 kilometre course may have sounded straightforward enough, but the two large traffic circles and sharp corners around the civic centre would take their toll after 52 kilometres of racing at an average speed of 46.3kph.

Knowing it would be impossible to cover the entire circuit by foot in an hour, I positioned myself at the far end of the circuit – roughly 500 metres east of the traffic island around which the riders would double back onto Renai Road – and waited.

A few minutes after arriving at my position for the day, the head of the race appears


The winning break – although I didn’t know this at the time.


…and the chasing bunch.


Three Jelly Belly riders finished near the bottom of the results, due to crashes. Charles Huff winces as the bunch (background, right) tears up the road several kilometres ahead


The winner, Anthony Gaicoppo (Image credit: PhotoSport International)


The race marshals copped it from frustrated motorists who couldn’t cross the road.


[Post-stage: I left quickly after the stage had finished to catch a flight. Unfortunately, Cycling iQ didn’t receive media accreditation for Tour de Taiwan this year. There are still so many UCI AsiaTour races to cover – and so little budget from which to cover them – so I had to return home. However, enroute to Australia, I received assurance that accreditation for next year’s Tour de Taiwan should be possible. As much as it pains me, I will be using supplied images and race reports from the Tour de Taiwan organiser from stage two onwards. The lack of mainstream coverage of UCI AsiaTour races proves to me the decision to focus on professional road cycling in Asia-Pacific is the right one. In the future, I hope all race reports and photos on cyclingiq.com will be unique and independently-sourced (on-site) as they were for 2011 Tour of Beijing and 2012 Tour de Langkawi. Cycling iQ]