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Tour de Taiwan 2014

Date range:
March 9-13

March 11, Stage 3: Changhua County 143km

Wippert wins in Tour de Taiwan

By:
Jean-François Quénet
Published:
March 11, 2014, 12:20 GMT,
Updated:
March 11, 2014, 12:29 GMT

Di Gregorio continues in race lead

Dutchman Wouter Wippert of Drapac Professional Cycling emerged as the winner of the close sprint ahead of Synergy Baku's Christoph Schweizer atop the 650 metres long climb leading to the magnificent statue of Baguashan Buddha in Changhua for the thrilling finale of stage 3 in the 2014 Tour de Taiwan.

"I came to the front with 300 metres to go," Wippert described, "but that was too far away from the finish. I had to let Schweizer pass me before I made my final effort in the last 100 metres but it was tight till the very end." The crowd called up for the photo-finish to determine the winner but it was the Dutchman who had raised his arms up the air, indeed.

"This is my first race ever in Asia but I had time to look at the finishing climb prior to the start, so I knew what kind of tactic to use," Wippert explained. "It's a great finale. It looks a bit like the Cauberg [the hilltop finish of the Amstel Gold Race and the 2012 world championships]. It was also the first real bunch sprint for me as I came second on stage 1 but I slipped in the second last corner so I couldn't sprint as I wanted to. This time it went all at perfection."

"Today I feel like I've just won my first pro race as it is my first ever victory in a category 1 race," said the 23-year-old who recently claimed two stages of the New Zealand classic. Wippert also previously won a stage at the 2010 Tour of Slovakia, at the 2011 Tour of Berlin, at the 2011 Tour de l'Avenir, and at the 2012 Triptyque Monts et Châteaux, all category 2 or U23 international races.

Crossing the line in third place, ahead of a crash that involved race favorite Wesley Sulzberger (Drapac), was John Murphy from Unitedhealthcare, who collected four bonus seconds that brought him closer to overall leader Rémy Di Gregorio of La Pomme Marseille.

"But this is another good day for us," said Di Gregorio who finished fourth, just ahead of Cannondale's neo pro Davide Formolo who is a pure climber in the making. "I really loved this uphill finish. There should be more of finales like this one in cycling. It's a fantastic venue for a bike race. This is my first time in Taiwan and I'm delighted. Leading the race gives us the responsibility to control the situation but Drapac actually helped us to close the gap."

Following the King of the Mountain prize sprint after 14kmm won by local hero Feng Chung Kai of Team Gusto, a four-man breakaway led the race with Cheung King Lok (Team Hong Kong-China), Liu Chin Feng (Team Gusto), Aldo Ilesic (Unitedhealthcare) and Tim Gebauer (Team Stölting) who enjoyed an advantage of four minutes. Ilesic persisted and was the last man caught at the bottom of the spectacular uphill stretch.

Stage 4 in Tainan City is considered the queen stage of the race with a finish at Zengwen Reservoir thirty kilometres after the usual end at Guanzhiling that saw the victory of Australia's Nathan Earle who earned his first pro contract at Team Sky after imposing himself at the Tour de Taiwan last year.

Brief Results

# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Wouter Wippert (Ned) Drapac Professional Cycling 3:15:14  
2 Christoph Schweizer (Ger) Synergy Baku Cycling Project    
3 John Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team 0:00:02  
4 Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) La Pomme Marseille    
5 Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale    
6 Georgios Bouglas (Gre) SP Tableware    
7 Jiri Polnicky (Cze) Bauknecht - Author    
8 Takashi Miyazawa (Jpn) Japan    
9 Jasper Ockeloen (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Cycling Team    
10 Marco Zanotti (Ita) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Cycling Team 0:00:06  
General classification after stage 3
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) La Pomme Marseille 7:39:57  
2 Benjamin Giraud (Fra) La Pomme Marseille 0:00:06  
3 John Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team 0:00:07  
4 Jan Dieteren (Ger) Team Stölting 0:00:10  
5 Markus Eibegger (Aut) Synergy Baku Cycling Project 0:00:11  
6 Marco Zanotti (Ita) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Cycling Team 0:00:12  
7 Jiri Polnicky (Cze) Bauknecht - Author    
8 Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale    
9 Cameron Wurf (Aus) Cannondale 0:00:15  
10 Ioannis Tamouridis (Gre) SP Tableware 0:00:16