KOREA’s Park Sung Baek made it a super sprint finish to take the Taipei City Criterium on Stage One of the Tour de Taiwan 2011 to put the disappointment of last year’s Asian Games behind him.
In Guangzhou 2010, the Korean was denied the gold medal in the men’s
Road Race when he was adjudged to have impeded Hong Kong’s Wong Kam Po in the sprint to the finish line.
But this time round there was no controversy as Sung Baek was clearly ahead of nearest challenger Bernardo Riccio of D’Angelo & Antennuci, who had to settle for the second spot and Dean Downing (Rapha Condor) to third.
“I’m just happy to win, it is always good to take a stage,” said the 26-year-old, who incidentally began his professional career with Taiwan-based Giant-Asia Racing team back in 2005.
“The team did a great job for me and Jang (Chan Jae) did a perfect lead out for me. I was a little concerned of crashes at the start of this race and that was the reason why I was a little cautious.
“For the next several days, the strategy will still be the same and that is to look for the opportunity to take another stage win although I really can’t wait for the climb to start.”
With the peloton having to complete 60 laps over a 1km circuit, the race saw several teams setting the early pace although it was to be Wai Man Chau of Hong Kong who took the first sprint.
But the Korean national team was quick to get to the front of the pack and Chan Jae was consistent throughout the remaining two sprints to pick up a total of 11 points to give the rhythm for Sung Baek for the finish.
“I’m just happy to work for the team and to see Sung Baek win the stage,” added Chan Jae, who took the sprinter’s green jersey at the end of today’s Stage One.
For Adam Phelan of the Drapac Professional team, he was just glad to still be at the top of the general classification and be in the leader’s yellow jersey for tomorrow’s Stage Two.
“I’m happy to be in the yellow still. I can’t quite sprint like some of the guys here so it was important that I keep out of trouble. We will see what happens in the next few days,” added Phelan.
On the other hand, the best ranked Asian rider blue jersey went to Junya Sano of the D’Angelo & Antenucci-Nippo team after being ranked eighth in the general classification – five seconds behind tour leader Phelan.
“It feels good to be in the blue jersey but there are a lot of good riders here and they all would want to win it. So I will just have to stick to the team strategy and hope for the best in the next few stages,” added Junya.
“It will be tough for me in the climbs as I’m not a climber, so I hope that I will get to wear this jersey as long as I can.”
In the meantime, prior to the start of today’s Taipei City Criterium, a fun ride called the Tour de Taiwan Series-HSBC Citizens Ride was organised for fans and enthusiasts alike.
More than 3,000 cyclists with their racing bikes, mountain bikes, BMX, folding bikes and just about everything on leg-powered wheels took part over the course which stretched for some 10km.
Tomorrwow’s Stage Two will see the peloton covering a distance of 118km from New Taipei City Hall to Linshanbi.
TOUR de TAIWAN 2011
STAGE ONE RESULTS
1. Park Sung Baek (Korea) 1:21:39
2. Bernardo Riccio (D’Angelo-Antennuci) 1:21:39
3. Dean Downing (Rapha Condor) 1:21:39
4. Dean Windsor (Rapha Condor) 1:21:39
5. Chan Jae Jang (Korea) 1:21:39
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION (after STAGE ONE)
1. Adam Phelan (Drapac Professional team) 1:24:22
2. Mart Ojavee (Champion System) 1:24:22
3. Dean Downing (Rapha Condor) 1:24.24
4. Michael Friedman (Kelly Benefit) 1:24.24
5. Rico Rogers (Giant Kenda) 1:24:24