This is my first post of 2013, but its not because I have nothing to write about, its more that I have been busy with other projects that my blog-site has been neglected so far this 2013. Since I am doing some coverage for the Tour of East Taiwan, I thought I should start with my blog to post some reactions from a couple of the riders that raced today.
The first rider is Dave Christensen, a very strong American rider who is currently racing for DirectAsia.com and featured in the front group of today’s 127km stage from Hualian to Taidong.
The second rider, also an American, is Taylor Price – who is a runner turned biker and is notching up some great results in Asia racing, has discovered that the level of racing in Taiwan is surprisingly high and rates the 140-strong peloton the best he has raced against in Asia! Taylor made the second group and mistakenly thought that after the KOM climb, things would come back together.
As for me, I raced today, but did not fare as well. I had sustained a bad crash at Yellow Mountain the previous week, injuring my left knee and sub-dislocating my shoulder. I did not have any power to make it over the KOM climb and was off the back pretty quickly! I did survive the day, but came in close to an hour behind the leaders of the race! Fingers crossed my knee continues to get better so I can complete stage two and also finish Thailand’s Friendship 5-day stage race.
Dave Christensen (Team DirectAsia.com) reactions
Tour of East Taiwan Stage One
This has been my first trip to Taiwan and from what I’ve seen so far I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s very clean, beautiful culture and people, amazing natural terrain and lots of people on bikes.
I’m here racing with my team, TeamDirectAsia.com, and we’ve got seven riders racing in this year’s event. A few of the guys have ridden the race before so we’ve had some insight to how the race has played out before and we based our race strategy on that experience.
Prior to the race and looking at the course we knew the KOM climb would be the key moment of the day and likely a selection would be made there so our strategy was just to make it over in the front group and hopefully fight it out for the stage win. As we rolled out and the flag was dropped the pace kicked up and we were racing. As we made our way through the several tunnels leading into the climb the pace shot up even more and it was a bit nerve-racking for me so I pretty much rode off the back of the group till we were through it. Just after the final tunnel the KOM climb started and I was in a really bad position at the base of the climb starting really far back so I had to pick my way through riders who’d been dropped and just made contact with the front group before the descent. I descended with a big group of local riders and they weren’t the best bike handlers so I again rode off the back a bit and when we hit the base of the descent I latched on to the group.
A good selection had been made and we were about 30-40 riders out of the mixed elite category of 140 we started with. Myself, and my teammate, Paolo Caputo, had made it over the KOM with the front group so it was nice to have a teammate there as well. As we rolled along the coastline there was little time for enjoying the view as attack after attack went trying to get a break going. I bridged up a few times to several breaks hoping one might stick but we were chased down every time. The attacks continued but still nothing stuck until about 20km to go a group of about seven riders got away and we made a half-hearted chase for the next 10km, despite a couple of teams having 4 riders in our group no one really took up the chase. On one of the final small climbs/rollers before the finish I cramped in my hamstring and actually had to stop and get off of my bike to stretch it. Once the pain subsided I jumped back on my bike and TT’d it to the finish sweeping up my teammate who’d also been dropped and we rolled in about five minutes down on the winner.
At the finish we learned that the break had stuck to fight for the win and that one rider had attacked his breakaway companions to steal the victory, a dramatic finish to a great day of racing along the Taiwanese coastline.
Looking back at our strategy I think we couldn’t have asked for more really. We had two riders make the selection and we were in it pretty much till the end but we just didn’t quite have the legs on the day. One bummer was that we didn’t see our team car once the whole day despite several attempts to get the race officials to call our car up, I’d actually done the stage on two bottles of water and a few gels so definitely not ideal for that pace and racing in the heat.
We’ll look to fight it out for the win tomorrow but with some really great riders here it will definitely be a tough day.
Taylor Price’s reactions
Tough day in the saddle. Today we rode from Hualian towards Taidong for just under 130km. The peloton would be probably one of the best that I’ve raced against before. About 150 guys in the peloton and they were hungry. The racing was pretty fast leading into the first climb with everyone still together. The pace on the climb was furious. About 2/3 the way of the climb I lost contact with the first bunch but was ahead of the 2nd. I didn’t panic because I thought with so much flat after the climb the race would come back together. I thought wrong. After the decent the chase group was up with me and we started to ride. We had four guys in this bunch and I knew a few other riders that would work so I rallied the guys and said let’s chase. We chased hard for awhile but the other guys in the group couldn’t keep the speed high enough to catch up. At one point we were about 90 seconds behind and we were just behind the team cars but couldn’t close the gap.
We continued to ride hard throughout the stage and myself and a guy from Direct Asia tried to get away several times. But we always caught. Our team did a big portion of the work in this group. During the last 3km I positioned myself right near the front but not on the front. With 5km to go about 6 guys got a little gap on us. Once we hit the last 500m wall to the finish I felt pretty good and had a good sprint up to the line and passed the group in front of us and was one of the first finishers in our group. I was disappointed not to challenge for the GC as I thought I could but my overall goal for this race was still accomplished. The aim for me here was to ride hard in the long stages to get ready for next week’s race in Thailand.
This was my first time racing in Taiwan. I was very impressed with the level of riding here. It was a bit humbling to get dropped from the first group as I very rarely am not able to hang. (I will blame it on the food poisoning I got this week). The Taiwanese riders are at a high level and they were wiling to work. It was a nice change of pace compared to racing in mainland China which has a very different style and a weaker peloton. The race course was absolutely beautiful. I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I’d like due to riding hard but I would love to come back here and do some training rides. I lived in Taiwan for a few years and it has always been a special place for me so it was great to come and race here. Looking forward to tomorrow.