Barring any unusual or unexpected incident in the next two days, Mehdi Sohrabi of the Tabriz Petrochemical team is almost certain to lift his first ever individual title of the Tour de Taiwan.
As Rico Rogers of the Giant Kenda team picked up the first stage win this year for the 2010 champions, the Iranian again showed his determination to win the Tour de Taiwan when he finished among the top ten riders in the ride from Chiayi to Kaohsiung.
In a bunch sprint finish into the technological wonder of Kaohsiung’s National Stadium which was the venue of the World Games in 2009, the peloton completed the 142km route in 2:44:41.
“Another good day, another good race, so we will see whether I can still keep the jersey tomorrow or on the last day of the race (into Taipei City),” added the 30-year-old.
After the race today, Mehdi has extended his lead at the top of the general classification for the tour leader yellow jersey to six seconds ahead of team-mate Makcus Eibegger and 24 seconds ahead of last year’s winner David McCann of Giant Kenda.
With no KOMs on the day, Mehdi is also in the red jersey for the king of the mountain and the blue jersey for the best ranked ASIAN rider.
Asked if Mehdi will win the crown this year, McCann said: “I don’t think that he (Mehdi) can win it. At the last stage (Stage Nine) there’s a final climb (up Yangmingshan, a Cat. 1) which I think I can win with more than a minute advantage.
“I’m more concerned with Markus. He is a good climber and I think that he will pose the bigger threat (to my title defence).”
With only flat stages on the day, a shift from the several daily climbs of the last several stages, the peloton seems to be taking it all in their stride as Drapac Professional team and Kelly Benefit drove the train forward with little breakaways making any impact.
They were taken from the start at Chiayi’s famous Hsingang Fongtian temple through to the picturesque coastline of Yunlin and Tainan area before he finish south of the island.
The first sprint at Chiayi County Hall was picked up Drapac’s Adam Phelan with the second sprint at Beimen Visitor Centre going to Michael Sherer of Kelly Benefit.
And while the third and final sprint of the day at Lovers’ Wharf was then taken by Mohd Rauf Misbah of Malaysia, it did little to change the standings for the sprinter’s green jersey where it is still in the hands of Mart Ojavee of Champion System.
The sprint finish into the National Stadium itself was nothing short of spectacular as Rico was superbly led out by team mate McCann for their first stage victory.
“My condition was not good in the first couple of days as I was struggling with a cold. But today, David led me out perfectly to a good position and I just went for it. It was good team work all around,” added Rico.
The jersey for the best ranked Under-23 rider is still with Drapac’s Adam Phelan as the peloton heads into Stage Eight tomorrow – a long 172km ride from Taitung to Hualien Carp Lake.
With two sprints and three climbs lying in wait, things will really heat up and affect the overall classifications after the penultimate stage – or maybe not.
TOUR de TAIWAN 2011
STAGE SEVEN RESULTS
1. Rico Rogers (Giant Kenda) 2:44:41
2. Lee Wei-Cheng (Action Cycling) 2:44:41
3. Mehdi Sohrabi (Tabriz Petrochemical) 2:44:41
4. Bernardo Riccio (D’Angelo & Antenucci) 2:44:41
5. Jaan Kirsipuu (Champion System) 2:44:41
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION (after STAGE SEVEN)
1. Mehdi Sohrabi (Tabriz) 20:18:25
2. Markus Eibegger (Tabriz Petrochemical) 20:18:31
3. David McCann (Giant Kenda) 20:18:49
4. Floris Goesinnen (Drapac) 20:19:16
5. Rhys Pollock (Drapac) 20:19:38