Frenchman Rémy Di Gregorio (La Pomme Marseille) has won the 26th Tour de Taiwan, while Germany's Fabian Schnaidt from Vorarlberg out-sprinted his team-mate Benjamin Giraud in a tight finish in the "Terrific Taiwan" fifth and last stage at Dapeng Bay.
A photo-finish was required to determine the winner, and Giraud was eventually denied a second victory after stage 2. A bunch gallop followed the end of the dream for Hong Kong's Cheung King Lok who was the last breakaway rider caught within 5km to go after he left his companions Samir Jabraylov (Synergy Baku), Muradjan Halmuratov (Terengganu TSG), Ben Johnson (Drapac), Joonas Henttala (Team Novo Nordisk), Khalil Khorshid (Tabriz Ranking) and Hung Kung Hung (Chinese Taipei).
"This is incredible", former Champion System rider Schnaidt reacted. "I wasn't too happy before the stage because of all the bruises I have to deal with since my crash on stage 1. I was already close to winning in Taipei but I got stopped by this crash. However, I like Asian racing because it's contested on wide roads unlike in Europe."
The Tour de Taiwan was Di Gregorio's first race in Asia. It turned out to being also the first 2.1 overall victory of his career. "In 2011, I won a stage at Paris-Nice," he recalled of his time with Astana. "In 2012, I won a difficult stage of the Vuelta Asturias atop the Alto del Naranco. In 2013, I won the Tour of Bulgaria. So I keep winning. Personally I had my sights set on the Criterium International but for La Pomme Marseille, it was important to come here and win. With one stage win and the overall classification, we're delighted. I'm pleased to repay the team for the trust they have in me."
"My team-mates have done a hard work today", Di Gregorio continued. "The composition of the breakaway suited us but tactically, it wasn't easy to control as the gaps were tight and the time bonus was crucial. In the final sprint, Benjamin [Giraud] did the job so my rivals on GC [stage 4 Ioannis Tamouridis and points classification overall winner Marco Zanotti] couldn't take the time bonus. It's a bit strange to win a mostly flat race because of the time bonus I scored myself in the first two stages. I'm a climber. I want to express myself in the hilly races. The Tour de Taiwan isn't the ideal preparation for the Criterium International. Now I'll have to recover from the traveling and the jet lag but I'm very happy to go home with the yellow jersey."
With seven riders of the final top ten – Di Gregorio, Tamouridis, Brian Bulgac, Markus Eibegger, Davide Formolo, Cameron Wurf and Wesley Sulzberger – being or having been part of the World Tour and a well balanced course that kept the suspense high till the very end, the Tour de Taiwan organizers reached a conclusion that their 2.1 status is well deserved.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Fabian Schnaidt (Ger) Team Vorarlberg||3:55:27|
|2||Benjamin Giraud (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 13|
|3||Wouter Wippert (Ned) Drapac Professional Cycling|
|4||Takashi Miyazawa (Jpn) Japan National Team|
|5||Marco Zanotti (Ita) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Cycling Team|
|6||Christoph Schweizer (Ger) Synergy Baku Cycling Project|
|7||Ioannis Tamouridis (Gre) SP Tableware|
|8||Georgios Bouglas (Gre) SP Tableware|
|9||Luke Keough (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team|
|10||Hsiao Shih Hsin (Tpe) Team Gusto|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 13||15:23:53|
|2||Ioannis Tamouridis (Gre) SP Tableware||0:00:04|
|3||Marco Zanotti (Ita) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Cycling Team||0:00:08|
|4||Jan Dieteren (Ger) Team Stölting||0:00:09|
|5||Brian Bulgac (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Cycling Team||0:00:10|
|6||Markus Eibegger (Aut) Synergy Baku Cycling Project||0:00:11|
|7||Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale||0:00:12|
|8||Cameron Wurf (Aus) Cannondale||0:00:15|
|9||Kohei Uchima (Jpn) Japan National Team||0:00:16|
|10||Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling|