It was a gallant effort from defending champion David McCann of the Giant Kenda team on the penultimate Stage Eight of the Tour de Taiwan 2011 but he was unable to prevent Japan’s Taiji Nishitani from taking the stage or prevent Mehdi Sohrabi of Tabriz Petrochemical team from inching closer to the overall crown.
In another bunch finish, Nishitani had just that extra half a wheel to win ahead of McCann for his first ever stage win at the Tour de Taiwan.
But while McCann’s effort of coming in second earned him an additional time bonus of six seconds, he is still placed third and is 12 seconds behind second-placed Markus Eibegger (Tabriz) and 18 seconds adrift of overall leader Mehdi.
“I have been coming to the Tour de Taiwan for four times before this and this is my first win. I’m ecstatic,” said Nishitani.
“Before the start, I had a feeling that I can win the race and I wanted to raise both arms in jubilation. Unfortunately, at the end today, I could only raise one arm which was good enough, I suppose.”
Nishitani completed the 165km course from Taitung to the eastern coast of Hualien in 4:06:21 as four more riders dropped off before the end of the race leaving the peloton with 87 riders for the final Stage Nine tomorrow.
With just two days left of the annual cycling race series at the start today, the penultimate stage was as punishing as it was made it to be with Tabriz Petrochemical having to work doubly hard in ensuring that no real breakaways were made.
Several teams tried hard to look for the advantage with Giant Kenda, Drapac Professional Cycling and Kelly Benefit all pushing hard but Tabriz caught them all to ensure the bunch sprint finish at the end.
The first sprint point at East Coast Scenic Office was taken by Da Jiao Peng of Max Success Sport while the second sprint at Kuangfu Train Station was won by Shimizu Miyataka of Japan.
With none of the leading chasers picking up points on the day, Mart Ojavee of Champion System should win the spinters’ green jersey going into the final day with his 39 points as against second-placed Chan Jae Jang of Korea’s 30 points.
For the KOM in the meantime, Mehdi is still in control even though Hong Kong’s Yeung Ying Hon made a big effort to pick up the full eight points at the first climb, a Cat. 1 at Route 30.
The second climb, a Cat 3 at Tea Garden was taken by Japan’s Shinichi Fukushima while the final and third climb at the end of the race was won by Nishitani.
But with the hard work of the last several stages and with just one climb tomorrow, Mehdi should not be troubled too much where his 33 points should give him the King of the Mountain red jersey this year.
Second-placed Ying Hon is too far behind with 18 points to affect the overall standings.
“Today was tough as usual where several teams attacked but my teams worked really hard to make sure that there was no danger,” added Mehdi, who is in the tour leader yellow jersey and also the blue jersey for the best ranked ASIAN rider.
“Tomorrow, I expect more of the same where teams will be working hard to take the yellow jersey from me. But I think that we can take them on.”
The best ranked Under-23 rider is still Adam Phelan of Drapac Professional Cycling team.
The final Stage Nine of the Tour de Taiwan 2011 will see the peloton covering just 117km from Yilan to Yangmingshan, at the edge of Taipei City.
TOUR de TAIWAN 2011
STAGE EIGHT RESULTS
1. Taiji Nishitani (Japan) 4:06:21
2. David McCann (Giant Kenda) 4:06:21
3. Takeaki Ayabe (Japan) 4:06:21
4. Chu Fan Hsin (Giant Kenda) 4:06:21
5. Adam Semple (Drapac) 4:06:21
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION (after STAGE EIGHT)
1. Mehdi Sohrabi (Tabriz) 24:24:26
2. Markus Eibegger (Tabriz Petrochemical) 24:24:52
3. David McCann (Giant Kenda) 24:25:04
4. Rhys Pollock (Drapac) 24:25:59
5. Adam Phelan (Drapac) 24:26:16