November 08, 2011 (Hualien, Taiwan) – The inaugural Taiwan Cup international road race, the highlight of 2011 Taiwan Cycling Festival, took place on Sunday, November 6 and crowed its first winner. In a thrilling bunch sprint finish, Aoyangi Kazuki (Shimano Racing Team) had just that extra half a wheel to take the win over Prevar Oleksander (Kolss Cycling Team) to claim his first ever Taiwan Cup yellow jersey and international victory.
The race featured many hills along with strong head winds and the Tour de France veteran Carlos Barredo said it was an amazing but tough race as riders averagee a blistering 41.6km/h to complete the 200km race.
Kazuki crossed the finish line with a time of 4:47:01 also winning the sprinter’s green jersey as Oleksander settled for 2nd just a half a wheel behind the winner. Third was Taiwanese super cycling hero Feng Chun-Kai (Action Cycling Team) who finished with the same time.
“It’s my second time to race in Taiwan, the race was very fast at the beginning and Suzuki Shinri, our team leader, ordered me to push harder in the breakaway. Thanks to my teammates who covered me and helped me to get through the strong winds so I could conserve energy for the sprint against Oleksander and Taiwan’s rider Chun-Kai who rode aggressively,” said the 22-year-old Kazuki who was 2nd in Japan’s U23 Road Championship. The last race for Kazuki this season will be the Tour de Okinawa next week and then he can finally enjoy his victory and great season.
The peloton reached 55km/h soon after the start and separated into two groups – a breakaway of 21 riders followed by the main pack. In the breakaway were two of Taiwan’s top riders, Chun Kai and Lee Wei-Cheng of Action Cycling Team along with other world-class cyclists. The time gap over the main bunch at one point reached 13 minutes.
“I have been to Taiwan 15 times or more before Taiwan Cup and have some good results in Tour de Taiwan. I’m ecstatic that young Kazuki won this race,” said Shinri who helped control the main bunch and let Kazuki and Abe Takayuki get away to claim the trophy. The win demonstrated the essence of cycling as not only individual sport but also team effort where some riders sacrifice theiri own chance for a teammate’s victory.
This 199.2km course from Hualien to the eastern coast of Taitung is definitely a challenging route, as nearly half of the riders abandoned before the end of the race. Most of the Taiwanese riders who raced are not professionals and as enthusiastic amateur it was a good opportunity and experience to ride with world-class cyclists.
The second and third climb, a Cat 2 at Yu-Chang Highway and Cat 3 at Shueilian were won by Feng Chun-Kai, who was determined to be the KOM leader. “The Tour de France riders like Carlos Barredo of Rabobank rode smoothly and easy like dancing, it seems the Rabobank guys didn’t pedal all-out,” said Chun-Kai. The 23-year-old, who wore the King of the Mountain’s polka dot jersey also won the best domestic rider white jersey. Chun-Kai of Action Cycling Team is a local hero with his unprecedented Superweek (USA) yellow jersey win this year.
The Taiwan Tourism Bureau is hoping that top level cyclists from all over the world will turn the Taiwan Cup into a classic annual race. Taiwan hopes to transform itself into the most bike-friendly nation in the world. As a cycling paradise the country is not only proud of its bicycle manufacturing heritage, but also of its lush green and gorgeous cycling terrain.
1. Aoyangi Kazuki (Shimano Racing Team) 4:47:01
2. Prevar Oleksander (Kolss Cycling Team)
3. Feng Chun-Kai (Action Cycling Team)
1. Feng Chun-Kai (Action Cycling Team) 15 Pts
2. Prevar Oleksandr (Kolss Cycling Team) 11 Pts
3. Amets Txurruka (International Individual) 8 Pts
1. Aoyangi Kazuki (Shimano Racing Team) 12 Pts
2. Prevar Oleksandr (Kolss Cycling Team) 10 Pts
3. Feng Chun-Kai (Action Cycling Team) 8 Pts
Best Taiwanese Classification
1. Feng Chun-Kai (Action Cycling Team) 4:47:01
2. Lee Wei-Cheng (Action Cycling Team) 4:47:49
3. Chu Fan Hsin (Giant-Kenda Pro Cycling Team) 5:04:56
1. Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille 4:49:41
2. Kolss Cycling Team 4:53:10
3. Action Cycling Team 4:53:30