The KFS/Sunday team are getting stuck in at the Tour de Taiwan. Dafydd Dylan reports from the bunch
Hello from Taiwan. I?ve finally had a chance to sit down in my hotel room where the wi-fi connection is working to tell you what we?ve got up to over here at the Tour de Taiwan.
After two days of travelling and adapting to the heat, suffocating humidity and the strange condition that is jetlag (waking up at 3am fully awake and ready to race, and wanting to doze at 10am), we attended the start presentation in Kaohsuing city centre, where we were treated to a buffet, a video of last years race, a load of speeches and live music from the band that got ?second place at the National Cup Pop Contest?. Very welcomed hospitality, although I must say that I prefer Elvis?s version of ?Love Me Tender?.
This race is a good opportunity for us to gain valuable experience as a young team, get some good quality race miles to prepare for the British season without being thrown in at the deep end of European pro racing, and to bring home a good result. The first stage was a city centre circuit race of 88km, the second was a 120km flat stage on a longer circuit. The racing here is fast, open and the riding in the peleton is nervous ? the Asian riders aren?t famed for being the safest riders in the bunch ? but we all got through safely and strongly and on both days finished in the big bunch sprint.
One obvious factor is the heat, humidity and pollution of the big cities over here. After the stages we were all tasting some form of chemicals in our mouths, have very obvious tan-lines and were struggling to breath deeply towards the end, but we are already getting used to it and don?t seem to be going any worse for it than we would back home. There isn?t a break of more than five riders without us being represented, but on a mostly flat stage race with the sprinters teams wanting to control things and the GC being decided on time bonuses,it is very hard to ride away from the bunch.
Today was the third day out of eight, and the first real test of a road stage to split the field. The profile was pan flat and finished with a short circuit and a nasty climb to finish ? one for the strong boys. Once the jersey presentation and speech formalities were done, we set off on a stage of strong crosswinds, riding in the gutter at an average speed of over 48kph for 133km. That?s very fast!
We rode well, riding near the front in the winds, with James doing very well in getting in the major move of the day, a six man group that got three minutes in a finger-snap and were only caught in the closing kilometres. Bearing in mind that a lot of the teams here have been to the Tour of Langkawi, California and other big races already this year, we are holding our own very well and are capable of coming home with a respectable result. It?s all to ride for us.
One very welcome difference over here is the enthusiasm of the public towards the race. Riding through towns we are greeted with colourful banners, music, screaming fans, and whole schools of children lined along the roads. At the start villages, people line up to inspect our ?Sunday? bikes and, best of all, groups of pretty young women queue up to take photos with us. Now that doesn?t happen to me too often at the UK races?
Until the next update.