The Tour de Taiwan is an annual professional road bike stage race held in Taiwan since 1978 as part of the UCI Asia Tour. This cycling tour championship is recognized by International Cycling Union (UCI) and has been integrated with the Taipei Cycle Show that is organized by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council since 2006.
In this blooming 2017, Tour de Taiwan 2017 took part from 26th to 30th March where it saw 105 outstanding riders and 21 teams participating in this reputable race. A deepest gratitude has to be extended to the local and central government as well as organizer, Chinese Taipei Cycling Association for making it a world-class race and gaining prominence and popularity over the years.
PRESENTING THE STAGES
Taipei is a cutting-edge city, rich of technology, arts and cultural connotation. As the capital city of Taiwan, Taipei has never failed to leave not only the local citizens, but also the foreign visitors flabbergasted through its none other than Tour de Taiwan 2017, which successfully attracted media and participants from other countries to witness the growth of a cycling environment at the 1st Stage, the Taipei City.
While at the 2nd Stage, New Taipei City was honored to co-organize the Tour de Taiwan 2017 once again. It was an opportunity to introduce cycling enthusiasts the beautiful nature and diverse culture, covering 114.6km in length with the extent of 5 administrative districts including Danshui, Sanzhi, Shimen, Jinshan and Wanli. The passages treated riders with magnificent sceneries. Along the road races, the riders passed through world’s famous Fisherman’s Wharf, cherry-blossoming Sanzhi, white-sand Baisha Bay, heaven-made Shimen Cave, nature-made Jump Stone Coast and long-standing Yeliou Queen’s Head Rock. “The King of the mountains” and “Intermediate Sprints” were the most thrilling points for both athletes and spectators.
Dedicated to promote cycling sports, Taoyuan City was the 3rd Stage in the tournament, which passed through 10 districts starting from Taoyuan City Hall, to downtown Taoyuan. Participants saw prosperous streetscape of the bustling city. After passing by Taoyuan International Airport, riders reached Chu-Wei Fishing Harbour, along sea breeze gently touching their faces. Next, they rode through Tai No.61 Western Coast Expressway, and saw the Paisha Chia Lighthouse. The following routes along Xinwu Green Tunnel and Tai No.66 Expressway with Yangmai and Pingzheng, riders caught a sight of Shimen Reservoir. Lastly, they arrived at Fuxin Jiabanshan, featuring in ancient Atayal Tribe culture.
The 4th Stage, the heart of Taiwan – Nantou Country’s route was designed to pass through the popular spots in the area. Local products were promoted to the world by the combination of international sports events and Tourism of Taiwan. Natural resources in Nantou Country welcomed riders with the best of luck in the race.
Pingtung Country was the 5th Stage, among the co-host cities. Teams from more than 30 countries gathered in the south part of the country to ride on exhilarating route, surrounded by amazing hills under the calm and clear sky. The route began from Pingtung City, alongside the Provincial road No.1, Orchid and Avenue Bike Path, country road No.185, Hengchun Fungang, Checheng to the Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area.
The complete tour successfully wrapped a distance of 682.11km.
STAGE 1: Taipei City Criterium
Stage 1 was a city criterium race of 8 laps (10.4km) for flat 83.2km. At the final 500m, Colombian Edwin Avila from Team Illuminate won the stage at the time of 1:39:08. Despite the rain, Carlos Eduardo Alzate Escobar from Unitedhealthcare Professional Cycling Team, Brenton Jones and James Gullen from JLT Condor, crossed intermediate sprints at the end of 2nd, 4th and 6th laps, with full 5 point respectively. The Green Jersey went to Russell Downing for 17 points and took second place at intermediate sprint 3, while Avila had 15 points for the final sprint. The best Asian rider Blue Jersey was Thai rider Thurakit Boonratanathanakorn from Thailand National Team.
STAGE 2: New Taipei City
Stage 2 was a 114.67km road race with 2 intermediate sprints and 2 KOM points. Weather on the 2nd day turned sunny, however soon after KOM points, twists and downhill, the breakaways were chased back. James Gullen from JLT Condor won the stage with the time of 2:41:50. The average speed was 42.5km/h. The first Polka Dot Jersey went to Benjami Prades from Team Ukyo for the total of 11 KOM points. Edwin Avila couldn’t defend his title, switched to the Green Jersey for the total of 30 points. At the sprint standing placed Marco Zanotti and Neil Van Der Ploeg, with 29 points for a very competitive Green Jersey battle. The best Asian rider Blue Jersey went to Japanese rider Tomohiro Hayakawa from Aisan Racing Team.
STAGE 3: Taoyuan City
Stage 3 was a 118.88km road race with one intermediate sprint and 3 KOM points, and the last KOM point was a summit finish with the only Cat1 climb of the tour. At the last 20km mark, the Green Jersey wearer Edwin Avila launched a fierce attack and gap for 16 seconds. Lachlan Norris from Unitedhealthcare Professional Cycling joined him for the breakaway, however at the last 5km mark the 2 leaders were chased back. Daniel Summerhill from Unitedhealthcare Professional Cycling won his first Asia tour at the time of 2:45:52, with an average speed of 43.0 km/h.
STAGE 4 Nantou Country
Stage 4 was a 166.56km road race with 2 intermediate sprints and 2 KOM points. It was believed to be the Queen Stage of the tour. At the last 500m mark, 9 riders bunch sprint and the Green Jersey wearer Edwin Avila outsprinted the Polka Dot Jersey wearer Benjami Prades with a time of 4:17:10, attaining an average speed of 38.8km/h. The first stage Taipei City winner Edwin Avila in Green Jersey launched the final attack and claimed the second wins in Tour de Taiwan. Ahead of the 10km of 2nd KOM points, Oscar Pujol attacked but finally Mauricio Ortega Ramirez took the KOM points. Benjami Prades got the 2nd place.
STAGE 5 Pingtung Country
Stage 5 was the longest 198.8km road race with 2 intermediate sprints and 2 KOM points. At 27km mark, 7 riders, Masakazu Ito (Nippo -ViniFantini), Rik Van Ijzendoorn (Team Novo Nordisk), Patrick Lane (IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness), Yannick Janssen (Memil Pro Cycling), Brian Mcculloch (Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling), Chien Liang Chen (Action Cycling Team) and Polychronis Tzortzakis (RTS-Monton Racing Team) made a successful breakaway. They were downsized to 2 riders in front of Polychronis Tzortzakis and Patrick Lane. At the last 2km mark, all the breakaway riders were caught back by peloton. The sprinter Brenton Jones from JLT Condor won the race with a time of 4:41:23, and an average speed of 42.3 km/h. The Best Asian second place Taiwanese rider Chien Liang Chen claimed the 1st intermediate sprint and overturned to claim the Blue Jersey. The Yellow Jersey and Polka Dot Jersey still went to Benjami Prades from Team Ukyo, and the Green Jersey went to Edwin Avila from Team Illuminate.