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Basque rider Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi) in Taiwan.
Euskaltel rider first on top of Taiwan's gruelling climb
The Taiwan Cup may have been cancelled due to the effects of Typhoon Megi but Amets Txurruka won the replacement event, a hill climb in Wuling, around the area of the famous Sunmoon Lake, in which Oscar Freire, Robert Hunter, Darren Lill, David Tanner, Tadej Valjavec and other professionals visiting Taiwan competed on Sunday morning.
"This climb is twice the Tourmalet!" Txurruka exclaimed when he realised the summit is at an altitude of 3275m. The Basque rider didn't get to see the Tourmalet at this year's Tour de France though, as he broke the same collarbone for the second time in four months in stage four to Reims. He rode a strong Vuelta a Espana at the service of Igor Anton until the race leader crashed badly on stage 14. He was the most aggressive rider overall at the 2007 Tour de France.
After hearing about the consequences of Typhoon Megi - which left 13 dead and 25 people missing in Taiwan - he decided to donate his bike to the victims plus the 250 euros prize money won in the Wuling hill climb, which was eventually multiplied by 10 by his Euskaltel team, making it 2500 euros.
"This is a bike I used during the 2009 Tour de France," Txurruka told Cyclingnews in Taichung. "It's an Orbea Orca equipped with Shimano Dura Ace and carbon wheels. I don't know the exact value but the bike is now for sale at the bike shop 'De Cycle' in Hsinchu. I hope it'll be sold at a good price to help the people in need. It's not a big action but I'm happy to do it."
The 27-year-old from Etxebarria in the province of Biscaia stayed in Taiwan to visit some bike manufacturers. In the Basque country, he lives only 12km from Mallabia, the home of Orbea cycles. While travelling to Taiwan, he set his sights on next year's Tour de France as he hopes for better luck in 2011.