It was every bit as dramatic as it everyone thought it would be on the final Stage Nine of the Tour de Taiwan 2011.
But in the end, Markus Eibegger of the Tabriz Petrochemical team had just that little more grit to be at the front of the harsh climb up Yangmingshan to win over the yellow jersey from team mate Mehdi Sohrabi to at once take the final individual general classification of the annual cycling race series.
Eibegger, who was in the yellow after Stage Three, Four and Five, said that the aim was to help Mehdi maintain the yellow jersey all the way to the finish in spite of the tough cold weather added to the wind and rain.
“There was a lot of attacking at the start of the climb, so Tabriz had to work really hard to follow. But with just 6km to go to the finish, Mehdi dropped off, so I had to go to make sure that Tabriz do not lose the yellow jersey,” added the 27-years-old Austrian, who rode for Team Footon Servetto last season.
“And when the Australian team (Drapac) attacked, my focus was just on (David) McCann where I made sure that he was not too far ahead. And when Ghader (Mizbani) joined me at the last 3km, we just went for it to build a steady lead and way in front of McCann.”
With what was at stake on the day, it was to be local lad Feng Chun Kai of Action Cycling team who went off on an individual bravado immediately after the first sprint at the Northeast Scenic Area office which was taken by Jaan Kirsipuu of Champion System.
The 23-year-old, who wore the King of the Mountain’s red jersey for several days last year, maintained his lead to take the second sprint after the Tai Power Corporation before being at the foot of Yangmingshan.
All together going into the last 14km of the stage, it was McCann and his Giant Kenda side who initiated the attack before Mizbani led Mehdi into the climb up Yangmingshan as Markus then followed suit.
Drapac then went off with Semple taking the lead heading into the finish to a warm reception of several hundred at the top in the midst of foggy conditions.
”In the climb up, team Giant tried to control the race but I saw that they were a little slow, so I just went off into the attack with my team,” added Semple.
“Today it was very cold, really, really cold and I will need to get to a hot spring to celebrate my win.”
Other than taking the stage on the day, Drapac also picked up the team GC as well as the jersey for the best ranked Under-23 rider through Adam Phelan.
The sprinters’ green jersey was won by Mart Ojavee of Champion System while Mehdi gained some measure of consolation when he was confirmed as the King of the Mountain winner in the red jersey.
For coming in fifth on the stage, Junya Sano of team D’Angelo & Antenucci-Nippo has taken over as the winner of the blue jersey for the best-ranked Asian rider.
“I tried very very hard in the last few days and I’m very happy that I can win something for the team. It is an important milestone in my career,” said the soft spoken Junya.
TOUR de TAIWAN 2011
STAGE NINE RESULTS
1. Adam Semple (Drapac Professional) 3:00:30
2. Kyung Gu Jang (Korea) 3:00:33
3. Hyosuk Gong (Korea) 3:00:33
4. Yeung Ying Hon (Hong Kong) 3:00:33
5. Junya Sano (D’Angelo) 3:00:38
FINAL INDIVIDUAL GENERAL CLASSIFICATION
1. Markus Eibegger (Tabriz Petrochemical) 27:25:38
2. David McCann (Giant Kenda) 27:25:51
3. Junya Sano (D’Angelo) 27:26:59
4. Lachlan Norris (Drapac) 27:27:01
5. Hyosuk Gong (Korea) 27:27:01
FINAL TEAM GENERAL CLASSIFICATION
1. Drapac Professional Cycling Team 82:19:26
2. Giant Kenda Cycling Team 82:21:13
3. Tabriz Petrochemical Cycling Team 82:21:32
4. Shimano Racing Team 82:21:42
5. Kelly Benefit Strategies 82:30:21