The Vuelta a Espana king of the mountains classification winner Omar Fraile is looking to conquer the Taiwan KOM Challenge, the annual climbing competition that awards €28,000 to the winner. Fraile also won the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco KOM competition and won the Italian 1.1 Giro dell'Appennino this season.
The Caja Rural-Seguros RGA rider, who is moving to MTN-Qhubeka from next season, will look to get the better of fellow professionals two-time winner John Ebsen (Androni), Taiwanese road race champion Chun-kai Feng (Lampre-Merida) and Lasse Norman Hansen (Cannondale-Garmin) at the top of the 3,275m mountain.
"I've never ridden such a high mountain so we'll see how it goes. I think the best thing is to follow the local hero [Feng], that would be a good place to start," Fraile said of the challenge. "The first part I think will be very fast and the end will be the hardest with ramps up to 27%".
The 600 entrants for the challenge will cover 105km with the first 18.1 kilometres to be neutralised. The average gradient for the first 80km of the climb is 5% with the final seven kilometres ramping up to 10% and one section where the roads reaches a leg sapping 27%. With €28,000 for the winner, there is a €14,00o reward for the runner up and €3,000 for the third place getter.
Professional riders Jeremy Roy (FDJ), Anthony Charteau (Europcar), Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge) and Will Routley (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) have all appeared at the event previously, as has Olympic gold medalist Nicole Cooke and Tiffany Cromwell (Velocio-SRAM).
Omar Fraile in the Vuelta's KOM jersey (Bettini Photo)
Vandewalle searching for a new team
Kristof Vandewalle is leaving the Trek Factory Racing team after two seasons but is yet to finalise a contract for the 2016 season. The three time Belgian national time trial champion hasn't won a personal race since the stage of the 2014 Tour de Pologne with injury and misfortune crippling attempts at regaining top form as he finished just five races in 2015.
"In June/July, I realised I had to look elsewhere. It is quiet in the transfer market," Vandewalle said of his search for a new team according to Sporza. "At the moment I see two options: one with a WorldTour team and one with a Pro-Continental team. I hope this week to get more news about the World Tour team."
Vandewalle crashed at last year's Vuelta a Espana, breaking a rib, he was then hit by car while training in October 2014, he crashed a broke a finger at this year's Giro d'Italia and has suffered from a knee injury since. In 2015, the 30-year-old was only able to finish two stage races, Critérium International and Tour de Romandie.
While the transfer market is still open, Vandewalle explained it is a stressful situation and the thought of retirement has crossed his mind but hopes to continue at the top level of the sport.
"Sometimes I think about it," he said. "I know I'm still young and can still do a few years but the thought of retirement has touched my mind," he said. "I am still very happy on the bike and hope for a new team. I have not stopped thinking about what I do want to do next season: To pass on my experience to young riders. I won't think too much about it. There is still time, although it is running out."
Successful heart operation for Vliegen
The Belgian tweeted from the hospital that he was "Back in my room after my operation. Everything is ok. Now I have to rest a little bit," he wrote.
Vliegen started the 2015 season with the BMC Development Team, making the move up to the WorldTour team, who signed a long-term seal with, on August 1 going to race the Clasica San Sebastian, Eneco Tour, GP Ouest France and the two Canadian GP races in Montreal and Quebec.
Cyclingnews podcast - Exclusive interview with Michael Rogers
This week'sCyclingnews podcast features an exclusive interview with Tinkoff-Saxo's Michael Rogers. Cyclingnews editor-in-chief Daniel Benson sat down with the Australian veteran at the team's training camp in Porec, Croatia this week.
You can listen to Rogers reliving the highs and lows of his career below or click here to subscribe to the Cyclingnews podcast on iTunes and listen when and where ever you please