Having missed out on a Tour de France podium spot by one place earlier this year, British rider Simon Yates is set to take on one of the craziest climbing challenges in cycling this Friday.
The Jayco AIUla rider will travel to Taiwan alongside team mate and Colombian climber Jesus David Peña, to embark on the gruelling 87 kilometre long Mount Hehuan - which tops out at 3,275 metres of elevation.
The event will see amateurs given the opportunity to compete against professionals on Mount Hehuan, which has an average gradient of 3.5% but also features sections over 15%.
Multiple Grand Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali won the Taiwan climbing challenge in 2017 and still holds the record for the fastest ever ascent. Nibali climbed Mount Hehuan in three hours, 19 minutes and 54 seconds.
Previewing the event, Yates said he was looking forward to taking on a challenge that was far removed from his everyday experiences as a WorldTour rider.
“The Taiwan KOM Challenge is a different style of racing to what we are used to with the race starting at sea level and then climbing to over 3000 metres,” he said. “There are not many climbs like that and doing a race that is basically one big climb will be a really interesting challenge and totally different to anything I've done before.
“Also, lining up alongside riders of all different levels from all over the world will be a unique experience.”
Another reason for Yates to succeed in Taiwan will be the fact that the Bury-born rider and Peña will be representing Jayco AIUla’s bike partner Giant in the brand's home country.
“Being in Taiwan will be special for us as a team,” Yates added. “It is the home of Giant and it will be nice to represent the brand, meet the people who work behind the scenes and also meet some of the fans out there.”
Coming from Colombia, Peña added that his experiences of riding his bike in his home country mean that he is more than used to riding at extreme altitude.
He said: “I’m really excited to be taking on this challenge, I think it is a race that suits me, I am a climber and coming from Colombia I am used to climbing at altitude. I think it is a special event and to do a race that is only uphill is something really different and exciting for me.
"I have had a good season and it will be good to end it in a nice way at the Taiwan KOM Challenge.”
Earlier this Yates recorded his best-ever finish at the Tour de France - fourth overall - behind eventual winner Jonas Vingegaard of Jumbo-Visma. Yates’ twin brother Adam finished third and wore the yellow jersey for a number of days across the three-week French Grand Tour.
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