In spite of the demands of an uphill sprint finish into Linshanbi, Mehdi Sohrabi of the Tabriz Petrochemical team made it all too easy to take Stage Two of the Tour de Taiwan 2011.
What made the victory more spectacular was the fact that the Iranian had sprinted off in the last 100metres for the finish ahead of defending champion David McCann of Team Giant Kenda - thus underlining his desire for the overall crown after picking up the Jelajah Malaysia title just a week earlier.
With the stage win, Mehdi also grabbed the tour leader yellow jersey with a seven second gap in front of McCann.
“I believe that I have more experienced in a sprint like this. He might challenge me for the jersey in the next few days but I think that I have enough in me to be competitive,” said the 29-year-old who had also won the Kerman Tour earlier in the year.
“I’m happy to win the stage and also take over the yellow jersey. But every day is a new race and we have to be prepared for anything.”
Just two kilometres in after the start at the New Taipei City Hall, local lad Feng Chun Kai of the Action Cycling team went into action on his own to take the first climb at Huai En Plaza.
He was then joined by Lachlan Norris of Drapac Professional team and Herwin Jaya of Polygon Sweet Nice before dropping off before the first sprint which was picked up by Herwin’s team-mate Bambang Suryadi.
Immediately after, a group of five riders – Mehdi, Kyung Gu Jang (Korea), Chi Ho Yuen (Hong Kong), Amir Rusli (Drapac Professional) and Michael Creed (Kelly Benefit) - went off.
Mehdi picked up the second KOM, a Cat. 3 at Ren Ai Home and also the third KOM, a Cat. 2 before Wanli Clock Tower.
The biggest gap between the five riders and the peloton was slightly over two minutes before it was all together again going into descent into Lushanbi.
But the group then broke into two with 24 riders in the front before going into the last 2km, Mehdi and McCann went off on their own.
Despite the gallant effort of McCann, there was just no stopping Mehdi from winning the stage to also take the King or the Mountain red jersey and also the blue jersey for the best ranked Asian rider.
For Adam Phelan from the Drapac Professional Cycling team, losing the yellow jersey after wearing it for the last two days was not unexpected.
This despite his gallant effort to finish fifth on the stage.
“Today was the first real stage and it was tough. The last climb was a real test on the legs but I knew that things can easily change,” added Phelan, who now wears the white jersey for the best ranked Under-23 rider.
“There were a lot of attacking today and that made it really hard. But the days are still long and there are several more stages to go, I believe that we still have the chance to make a challenge.”
Despite not picking up any points in today’s two sprint areas, Chan Jae Jang of the Korea national team is still in the green jersey with 11 points while his nearest challenger is McCann with five points.
“The wind factor (since the peloton went through some parts of coastal roads) made it real hard today. So I’m looking forward to the stage tomorrow where it is more flat,” added the 22-year-old Jae Jang.
Tomorrow’s Stage Three will take the peloton through a shorter distance of 114km with three sprint areas and two KOMs including the Cat. 3 at the finish.
TOUR de TAIWAN 2011
STAGE TWO RESULTS
1. Mehdi Sohrabi (Tabriz Petrochemical) 2:50:15
2. David McCann (Giant Kenda) 2:50:18
3. Shinri Suzuki (Shimano) 2:51:23
4. Junpei Murakami (Shimano) 2:51:23
5. Adam Phelan (Drapac) 2:51:23
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION (after STAGE TWO)
1. Mehdi Sohrabi (Tabriz Petrochemical ) 2:50:15
2. David McCann (Giant Kenda) 2:50:18
3. Adam Phelan (Drapac) 2:51:23
4. Shinri Suzuki (Shimano) 2:51:23
Junya Sano (D’Angelo & Antenucci) 2:51:23