KFS Special Vehicles rider Dafydd Dylan charts his progress riding in the Tour of Taiwan.
After getting up at silly o?clock to get our bags ready at the hotel lobby before breakfast, I was more than a little annoyed to see that they were still lying in the same place when the bus rolled out at twenty to eight.
It took a good sniff of the salts and a strong coffee to wake me up at the stage start and standing in the town centre start line next to a giant speaker listening to the mayor of Hsinchu shout in Mandarin about the beautiful local scenery of the Taiwanese ?silicon valley? help the process as well I guess, although I still only managed to gaze into nothing in particular looking dazed and chewing a muesli bar.
The fifth stage was perhaps the most boring race I?ve ever done. It was up and down a seaside dual carriageway strip with a noticeable crosswind, solid ?cats eyes? that stick out two inches and glass in the gutter- which happens to be where we spent most of the day to avoid the wind, and what also caused Greg [Roche] to puncture just as we were riding up together behind the ?Merida train? with 5 km to go. The stage was run at an average of 29mph for the 95-mile stage, so it was no surprise that it was a bit too much to ask for him to get back into contact with us at that point.
The riding wasn?t that much more exiting. It was pan flat, with a intermediate sprint every 20km?s or so that translates to; the sprinters team controlling everything, not being able to ride away and ?whilst we?re at it we might as well make the most of this wind and put it in the gutter so that it?s extra hard.? I wasn?t having a great day but managed to have a few digs off the front, I nearly took a cheeky time bonus by clipping off solo 2km before a sprint point, but was swamped 50 yards before the line by the Healthnet rider in yellow.
We were again represented in the most promising move of the day, this time with James [Stewart] getting into a move of 13 riders that stayed away for a couple of laps, but it was too big and dangerous for the leaders jersey to stay away. No surprise that it was a bunch sprint and I?m particularly proud of managing to escape a serious crash in the run in. A lot of the local riders seem to do a lot of pointless, death defying manoeuvres in the bunch which is a slight inconvenience to say the least, but I suppose that the British bunch will feel very safe in comparison.
One of the running themes of the trip is quoting lines from The Office to pass the time and have a laugh, Richard [Sykes-Popham] especially has firmly established himself as a very convincing David Brent, and by now I estimate that we have recited 90% of both seasons? scripts off by heart, mostly out of boredom from hanging around in hotel rooms and sitting on a bus during a surprisingly long stage transfer (how long can it take to drive across an island of this size?) and mostly to release some tension before and after stages. The hardest stage is stage six; with a hillier route though Taipei County which hopefully means a break staying away, which for us will be a better day in the office.