Founded in 1978, the Tour de Taiwan has grown into an internationally recognised stage race perfect for both sprinters and climbers. Always fiercely competitive the race takes place from the 26th-30th March.
Part of the UCI’s Asia Tour series, once again there is a high level international field with Pro Continental squads of Team Novo Nordisk (USA), United Healthcare (USA), Nippo-Vini Fantini (ITA) and SwissWellness IsoWhey (AUS) bringing several yellow jersey favourites to the event.
Starting with a crowd-pleasing criterium around the streets of central Taipei City, the race moves south west through green mountain ranges and finishes with a sprint day in Pingtung County, at the very bottom of the island. Stages three and four are characterised by difficult terrain and both end with high summit finishes. In the 2016 edition, tropical rain storms in the mountains made climbing the fearsome road to Sun Moon Lake even harder.
Sprinter, Brenton Jones, is a clear favourite for a high finish on stage one. The Australian has Russell Downing and Ian Bibby to protect him in the fast final moments of the stage.
Stage two – 114.6km New Taipei City – New Taipei City
The second day could finish in a bunch sprint, however the race takes in a coastal road where high sea winds could split the pack. A breakaway group could survive if the sprinters teams are slow to react to any threats.
Stage three – 118.8km Taoyuan City
To whet the climbers’ appetites ahead of the summit finish at Sun Moon Lake, there’s a tasty finish on stage three that should cause some fireworks. The stage is full of ups and downs with a big climb over the Shihmen Dam and then up to the summit in Jiaobanshan Park.
The bunch is likely to fracture on the final climb of stage four, climbers hoping for a good placing in the race overall will need to drive up the final climb as well as cope with the cobbled narrow streets into the finish. Ian Bibby’s ability to climb and sprint makes him a stage favourite and he is well supported by Edmund Bradbury, who showed good form on the climbing stages of the Herald Sun Tour.
Our history in the race
“Last year, the team in Taiwan was focused on climbers, this year we’ve got a balance of sprinters, climbers and all rounders.
We’ve got options for Brenton in the sprints and that will mean we can keep others guessing and not get marked out. “
– Russell Downing, JLT Condor
Follow the race
Viewers around the world can watch 30 minute stage highlights on the event’s YouTube Channel
Stages begin at 9am (local time) each day.
Stages one and two are predicted to finish at 1pm.
Stages three, four and five are predicted to finish at 2.30pm.
Taiwan is eight hours ahead of GMT on China Standard Time. For UK fans it means the stages will finish between 8pm and 10pm in the evening.