On the day when Floris Goesinnen of the Drapac Professional Cycling team took the longest stage of the Tour de Taiwan 2011, tour leader Markus Eibegger of the Tabriz Petrochemical team denied that the title this year has been all but decided.
Eibegger and team-mate Mehdi Sohrabi currently occupy the top two spots in the general classification with a 19 second gap over third-placed David McCann of Giant Kenda and after today 45 seconds ahead of fourth-placed Floris.
Team Tabriz is also at the top of the team general classification with a 40 second advantage over second placed Drapac Professional Cycling team and more than two minutes over Giant Kenda who are on third place.
“I don’t think that the race is all over,” stated Eibegger. “There’s still that guy in the blue jersey (Mehdi) which I have to look out for. But seriously, there are still five more stages to go and anything can happen.
“We still have to work hard to get to the finish line.”
Following yesterday’s harsh weather of cold and rain, the ride further south today gave way to a warmer conditions and where the peloton seems to be taking it a little easier with lesser breakaways when compared to the last two days.
Perhaps it being a long stage, the aim was just to finish the race and not dropping too far behind being the ultimate target, the leaders of the major jerseys just sat back and allowed the others to do more of the work instead.
The first sprint at Chulian Primary School was picked up by Chan Jae Jang of the Korea national team to pull up his total haul to 16 points – just a point adrift of current green jersey leader Mart Ojavee of Champion System.
“I’m just happy that the longest stage is over. I was just tired after yesterday where it was really tough. I just did enough today to keey the jersey, that was the target,” added Ojavee.
The remaining two sprints at Douhuan Primary School and Shitan Junior High School was picked up by Roger Beuchat of Champion System and Mehdi respectively.
But the Iranian consolidated further his hold of the king of the mountain red jersey when he picked up the first full six points at the first climb (Cat.2) heading into Zhuolan and then another six points for his second position at the second climb (Cat. 1) near Guoxing Bridge.
With the 12 points on the day Mehdi, who is also in the blue jersey for the best ranked Asian rider, are on 21 points in the KOM - ten points ahead of Eibegger.
“I’m just very tired and today I just did enough to maintain my position and not risk too much,” quipped Sohrabi afterwards.
Going into the last 30km, it was to be a two-way battle between Floris and Feng Chun Kai of Action Cycling team before the former then went off on his own to take the stage with a staggering 42 second lead over second placed Kam Po.
“I promised my team-mate (Rhys Pollock) who fell yesterday at the last five kilometres that I will try to win today for him, to take revenge and I did,” added Floris after the race.
“I knew that today is the longest stage with some high mountains and that some of the riders would be tired at the end. I saw the sprinters having difficulty, so I just went for it.”
The best ranked Under-23 rider is still in the grasp of team-mate Adam Phelan who said: “this was the longest ever road race for me. The last 30km was tough, so I just sat in. It is a good situation for the team that Floris wins.
TOUR de TAIWAN 2011
STAGE FOUR RESULTS
1. Floris Goesinnen (Drapac) 4:35:30
2. Wong Kam Po (Hong Kong) 4:36:12
3. Takeaki Ayabi (Japan) 4:36:12
4. Markus Eibegger (Tabriz Petrochemical) 4:36:12
5. Adam Semple (Drapac) 4:36:12
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION (after STAGE FOUR)
1. Markus Eibegger (Tabriz Petrochemical) 11:32:00
2. Mehdi Sohrabi (Tabriz) 11:32:09
3. David McCann (Giant Kenda) 11:32:19
4. Floris Goesinnen (Drapac) 11:32:45
Rhys Pollock (Drapac) 11:33:07