Benjamin Giraud of La Pomme Marseille has won stage 2 of the Tour de Taiwan that featured an unprecedented finishing venue on an airport runway in Taoyuan. The success was complete for his French team sponsored by Taiwanese cycles CKT as Rémy Di Gregorio took over the lead from Unitedhealthcare's Luke Keough as he rode for time bonus in intermediate sprints for two days in a row.
"I'm happy for the team", Di Gregorio said. "It's pretty special for me to become a race leader through intermediate sprints, as I'm a climber but not a sprinter, but I've realized from reading the road book that time bonus might be the decisive factor for the overall win. I've come here for that after riding strongly in the French early season races. I'm ambitious. But racing in Taiwan is a total discovery for me. I'm hoping that the terrain will favor my characteristics in the next two days."
With two seconds lead over Giraud but mainly eleven seconds over former Tour de Taiwan winner John Murphy (UnitedHealthcare) and Cannondale's trio formed of Cameron Wurf, Davide Formolo and another Frenchman, Jean-Marc Marino, Di Gregorio is in a perfect position for winning the first category one stage race of his career at the age of 28.
After putting the hammer down in the only climb of the day behind the lone leader Wu Nan of Giant-Champion System at half way into the 152km long stage, La Pomme Marseille was represented by four riders in the 16-man strong leading group that entered the final circuit with an advantage of 55 seconds. The gap grew to more than three minutes as the peloton gave up because of a demoralizing strong wind on the runway of Taoyuan military airport. It was blowing at up to 74km/h!
"I had to remain covered until the very last moment", commented Giraud who was known as the fastest sprinter of the sixteen leaders. As he feared to be boxed in, Di Gregorio's former FDJ team-mate Wesley Sulzberger now racing for Drapac felt he had to open the sprint. The finishing line was only 150 meters away but it was still too far to resist to the wind. Giraud overtook him with style with just 50 meters to go.
"This is my second stage win at the Tour de Taiwan after last year's one", noted the Frenchman who also claimed stage victories at the Tour of Qinghai Lake and the Tour of China in 2013. "I love the racing here and this very special finishing circuit made it a very interesting one. It was a good idea to make us arrive in an airport. The route wasn't hard but the wind made it a very difficult race today. Now we have a yellow jersey to defend. We'll give our best to keep it."
The Tour de Taiwan will come to a conclusion with the "Terrific Taiwan" stage 5 on Thursday at Dapeng Bay.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Benjamin Giraud (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 13||3:18:29|
|2||Jan Dieteren (Ger) Team Stölting|
|3||Marco Zanotti (Ita) Parkhotel Valkenburg CT|
|4||Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling|
|5||Jean Marc Marino (Fra) Cannondale|
|6||Markus Eibegger (Aut) Synergy Baku Cycling Project|
|7||Thomas Vaubourzeix (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 13|
|8||John Murphy (USA) nitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team|
|9||Cameron Wurf (Aus) Cannondale|
|10||Jiri Polnicky (Cze) Bauknecht - Author|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 13||4:24:41|
|2||Benjamin Giraud (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 13||0:00:02|
|3||Jan Dieteren (Ger) Team Stölting||0:00:06|
|4||Markus Eibegger (Aut) Synergy Baku Cycling Project||0:00:07|
|5||Marco Zanotti (Ita) Parkhotel Valkenburg CT||0:00:08|
|6||John Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team||0:00:11|
|7||Cameron Wurf (Aus) Cannondale|
|8||Ioannis Tamouridis (Gre) SP Tableware||0:00:12|
|9||Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling|
|10||Kohei Uchima (Jpn) Japan National Team|