Stage 4 was a circuit race. It was probably the worst course I've ever ridden on. We rolled out of town onto this 8km circuit that was on service roads next to the expressway, with two U-turns on each end. There were many breakaway attempts, but due to the high speeds it took a while for the only real break to get away. Once it did the race settled like normal for a while before the big chase begun. We had are guys stacked nicely at the front coming down to the end and gave it a good go, but came up short. We started just a touch early.
A view of the circuit race as we passed under the highway at this section.
Stage 5 was the queen stage. It had two climbs stacked back to back towards the back end of the race. The plan was to get Phil in position to attack on the second one. I was going to attack on the climb before the categorized climbs to catch a few off guard. Things changed through the race as they decided not to have me attack that early and just play a wait game as the pace was high. Phil and I got over the first climb good and I got bottles before heading into the second. Just as I handed them up the pace picked up and I was at the back as the fireworks went. I was caught out, but Phil was nicely positioned and attacked everyone. He got away with 1 other rider and headed towards the finish. I sat behind the teams desperately chasing hoping he would make it. The kilometers couldn't click by fast enough and with the 40km between the top of the climb and the finish they were able to bring him back 3km from the finish.
The scenery did pick up through the race a bit. Here is the first Cat 1 climb on the day.
Stage 6 was looking like our last day to take back the 8 seconds we needed for a victory. But it also left two days for a guy from the Japan team who was winning sprints and climbing well to take bonuses. We had not only think of fighting for first, but not loosing our podium position. The best thing for us were breaks going up the road without contenders taking bonuses.
Right from the get go on stage 6 the pace was high. There was a nice Cat 2 climb in the first 20km. The field was strung out as we hit the base of the climb and the break went from the bottom, and the field sat up.
The next obstacle was a Cat 2 climb halfway through. Once again Phil had no problem getting to the top with a small group and I was right behind with a few more. The groups mostly came together as we went right back down. The Asian teams went straight to the front to bring back the break looking for time bonuses. Luckily for us they came up 1km short. But with the break back and some rollers on the way there were some fireworks. Everyone started to attack. Including the yellow jersey. Phil and I started to mark those who were important. Phil was all over the dangerous moves.
Chad dug himself deep and made it back to the group after the climb and was able to mark the Japan rider as we headed back into town for the finish. His job was simple make sure he doesn't get any time bonuses. That his what he did as Chad finished strong in 5th and the Japan rider was 4th. Everything remained the same in GC.
The second climb on stage 6. It was more narrow and had a really steep pitch at 1km to go.
The final stage was a criterium in downtown Taipei. Right in front of the second tallest building in the world. Our objections remained the same as the previous day. A break went away and took out the first sent of time bonuses. Not without the Japan rider trying to bridge solo. Luckily Chad was on it and I was right behind. I got in a break before the second one and took some time on that one. Jonny Sundt took over from there getting in the next break and making sure they did not get caught. He turned himself inside out to pull the break around the last few laps as everyone else were playing games. He helped the break stay away, all bonuses were gone, and took 5th at the same time. The field rolled in 5 seconds after.
Taipei 101. The worlds second tallest building. Never did get a chance to go to the top. Next time.
Well we didn't win the stage race overall, but we did finish 2nd. Phil rode very strong and the team was able to support him which was great. This year should be a very good one for the Kenda boys.
More on Taiwan to come. So much to talk about. This was the boring race blog description.