March 22, 2015 (Taiwan) – Team SmartStop played it cautious in the first stage of the Tour de Taiwan yesterday. With only a short 54km Taipei City Circuit, the five-man team used the stage to get the legs back into racing and save themselves for the coming stages.
With very little activity happening throughout the stage, breakaways were hard and teams weren’t giving anyone more than 30 seconds up the road, many tried including Eric Marcotte and Rob Britton but Sporting Director, Michael Roecklein said that nothing materialized and it was a difficult race for one team to control.
“Rob joined a small break with Eric bridging across, however no break was ever given more than 25 seconds,” said Roecklein, “The peloton stayed in tact for almost the entire 54km.”
A small group of three made their way in front of the peloton in the closing circuits but was reeled in with 3km to go.
“The last 10km were very chaotic with guys constantly locking their brakes to avoid each other, there was a small crash in front of Zach with 200m to go but luckily the two-man crash was the only time riders hit the deck,” said Roecklein.
Team Captain, Zach Bell, said the first stage of the Tour de Taiwan was “just a day to get the legs under the guys.” Jure Kocjan took a shot at the sprint but it wasn’t to be and he finished in 12th.
Wouter Wippert of Drapac Professional Cycling won the stage.
“It was short and so easy that the end was just a mass of guys plugging the road,” said Zach, “The guys stayed safe, saved their legs for the rest of the race and Jure tried to position himself for the sprint but the way the group was, made it hard for him to set up and save his too.”
Tomorrow will take the riders 137km in the Taoyuan Road Race starting at 9.30am (6.30pm PST), the stage features one sprint and two KOM’s.
“I expect a break will go up the road until the stronger teams decide it is time to battle for the stage win and likely yellow,” said Roecklein, “Eric really likes the finish for himself and he is coming off some success at the Tucson Bicycle Class, so we will see what he can do.”
1. Wouter Wippert (Ned) Drapac Professional Cycling 1:04:54
2. Aldo Ino Ilesic (Slo) Team Vorarlberg
3. Keonwoo Park (Kor) National Team Südkorea
4. Marco Zanotti (Ita) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team
5. Po Hung Wu (Tpe) National Team Taiwan
6. Nikolai Tefre Lunder (Nor) Team Frøy – Oslo
7. Oleksandr Surutkovych (Ukr) Synergy Baku Cycling Project
8. Neil Van Der Ploeg (Aus) Avanti Racing Team
9. Kazushige Kuboki (Jpn) Team Ukyo
10. Yasuharu Nakajima (Jpn) National Team Japan
24. Jacob Schwingboth (Can) Bike Aid
65. Zach Bell (Can) Team SmartStop
87. Rob Britton (Can) Team SmartStop
Full results here.