The Tour de Taiwan got off to a tough start yesterday and it was not all smiles at the finish of the Perfect Taiwan opening stage. The Australian Continental squad Drapac Professional Cycling was unable to come away with a stage win but the entire team made it safely across the line with the group that sprinted for second-place - a feat a number of teams were unable to achieve.
The peloton was not as lucky with crashes, DNF's and riders finishing outside the time limit meaning that 11 starters already find themselves packing up and heading home before the tour has really begun.
Drapac were attentive throughout the wind-swept stage however, none of the teams were able to real in the remaining two riders who fought it out for the stage win after being part of a late-race break of eight riders.
At the finish it was one of the team's newest signings Robbie Hucker who claimed seventh-place with Bernard Sulzberger putting two inside the top-ten with ninth. A last minute replacement was needed to fill in the spot left by former Grafton to Inverell winner Malcolm Rudolph with the experienced Gordon McCauley stepping into the race.
"Although it was a flat course, the exception of one bridge, it would be the winds and aggression amongst the riders that would make it fast and difficult" read a team release.
"Many different groups tried their luck to escape but it wasn't until late in the race when a break of 8 riders slipped off the front. This group slowly whittled away but two riders were able to hold off a fast closing bunch to take an 8 second advantage."
McCauley is currently the team's best placed rider in ninth-place and sits eight seconds from the race lead of Stage 1 winner Kirill Pozdnyakov (Synergy Baku Cycling Project Team). The following day in Tainan City could present an opportunity for some of the general classification contenders with tough climb to the finish of the 137km stage.
"Tomorrows stage from Tainan City to Guanzihling has a hill climb finish and will be sure to sort out the GC."