Wong Kam Po wins Tour's first stage
THEY'RE OFF: Two riders from Hong Kong took the first two places in the stage yesterday, with Malaysian Tsen Seong Hoong just one second behind in third
Hong Kong cyclist Wong Kam Po won the first leg of the Tour de Taiwan race yesterday, while another rider from Hong Kong, Wong Ngai Ching and Malaysian Tsen Seong Hoong won second and third place.
The 176km Kaohsiung-Taitung leg was the first stage of the six-day event that kicked off yesterday. Riders crossed the central mountain range at an altitude of more than 400m above sea level.
Wong Kam Po won the race in a time of 4 hours, 35 minutes and seven seconds.
Princess Wade Syndiely, daughter of Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, was among the fans following the race yesterday. The princess was invited to award the first stage prize to Wong.
Twelve teams are participating in the race, which includes riders from Kazakhastan, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Hong Kong, as well as France, Europe and Asia teams sponsored by bicycle manufacturers Giant and Merida.
The second leg will set off from Taitung City's Chunghsing Road Section 2 at 10am this morning and will end at the Hualien County Stadium. The second leg will be 173km long. The entire race is 693km.
Malaysian wins Tour's second leg
TAITUNG TO HUALIEN: Suhardi Hassan managed to edge in front of the winner of the first leg, Hong Kong's Wong Kam Po, while avoiding the bad luck that saw some contestants getting hurt
Malaysia's Suhardi Hassan won the second leg of the Tour de Taiwan race yesterday, narrowly beating the first leg's champion Wong Kam Po of Hong Kong.
A number of cyclists were injured in accidents in the leg that started in Taitung and ended 173km later in Hualien.
Malaysia's Tsen Seong Hoong Hans Siman of the Merida International Team and Japan's Kentaro Eshita were seriously injured in the accidents, which occurred mostly within the last 40km of the race.
The first crash occurred when three stray dogs popped onto the road while the race was passing through Fenglin City, resulting in a pile-up.
Only a small number of contestants suffered injuries in that crash, mostly minor cuts and scratches.
The second accident occurred within the last three kilometers of the stage where the road twists into a drastic left turn, then a right turn and then suddenly turns narrow.
A railroad crossing, potholes and gravel left behind from construction work also worsened the situation.
Japan's Eshita suffered serious injuries on his left elbow and leg when he fell at this point, raising fears that his cycling career may have come to an end. Malaysia's Tsen suffered a bone fracture in his right arm.
Indonesian wins Third Tour stage amid controversy
Cyclist Ferinanto from the Polygon Sweet Nice (PSN) Team yesterday won the third leg of the 2002 Tour de Taiwan race.
The leg was raced in the city of Hualien.
The Indonesian cyclist won the race in a time of one hour, 23 minutes and 52 seconds.
He also won the first and fifth sprint stages yesterday.
Juergen Kottula from the Merida International Team won the second sprint stage. Hong Kong's Wong Ngaiching won the third and Hans Siman -- also from the Merida International Team -- won the fourth.
Among the four winners of the five sprint stages yesterday, Siman received the most applaud from the audience in Hualien for his courage to get back on his bike and push on with the Tour after he was seriously injured the day before. The cyclist broke two of his ribs in an accident on Wednesday, but he insisted on keeping on competing in the race.
Meanwhile, a number of contestants yesterday complained to the Japanese judge Tatsuo Hayashi that Ferinanto was purposely blocking other players during the race.
Although Ferinanto denied the charges and maintained that he never tried to stop any of his opponents, the cyclist was later fined 50 francs and 10 penalty seconds by the Japanese judge.
The 6-day competition is scheduled to move into the mountainous areas of central Taiwan today
Glen wins frostbitten mountain stage
As contestants in the 2002 Tour de Taiwan race struggled through the Tour's most difficult stage over the Central Mountain Range yesterday, Chadwick Glen of the Giant Asia Racing Team cycled his way toward the championship in the six-day event's fourth stage -- from Lishan in Taichung County to Wuling in Nantou.
Added to his joy was the news that his team won the group championship in this leg of the Tour.
Competing in unfavourable conditions created by continuous drizzles, low temperatures, strong winds and muddy roads, riders could hardly enjoy the mountain scenery on Hohuan Mountain (¦XÅw¤s) in Nantou County.
Although this stage covers the shortest distance at only 41.4km, competitors had to face a drastic right turn as they came out of a mountain tunnel with 10km to go, followed by a 1km-long muddy path. Moreover, they had to brave strong winds of temperatures as low as 30C as they neared the finish line at Wuling -- at an altitude of 3,275m above sea level.
Pestered by mist and fine drizzles all the way -- and having to traverse segments of frozen road -- cyclists maintained a slow 20kph in the first half of the race.
Within the last 20km though, Glen sped up and kept the momentum until the final line. He won this leg in a time of one hour, 37 minutes and 17 seconds, followed by Wong Kam Po from Hong Kong who trailed by 53 seconds.
Wong, champion of the first leg, narrowly beat Matej Jurco of the Merida International Team by one second.
Glen's teammate Tonton Susanto won fourth place.
Including Glen and Susanto, the Giant team saw its four members all listed in the top 10, capturing the group title for the stage.
The day five race will start in front of the Nantou County Government building at 10am today. Riders will tackle more difficult terrain in an area that was severely hit by the 921 earthquake -- making it a very grueling 182.2km leg.
Accident forces cancellation of Tour stage
A severe accident that occurred on a downward slope near the Chaiyi Farm yesterday forced the fifth leg of the 2002 Tour de Taiwan to a halt, leaving four cyclists injured and another ten scratched up after they tumbled off their bicycles.
A car was involved in the accident which ended the leg of the race that would have stretched from Nantou to Tainan.
Japanese chief judge Tazin Saad announced at 1:36 that the stage had been suspended, making it the first time in the event's 14-year history that a leg of the race was terminated.
The accident took place 120km from the starting point in Nantou County when two riders of the Dinamo-Alatau Team, Dennis Tupchenko and Michael Andreyev, collided with a car that was heading toward them from the opposite direction at a left turn.
Unaware of the accident in the front, Tsoi Chung Ming and Wong Kam Po , both from Hong Kong, were also injured. The cyclists had to be rushed to hospital for treatment.
The four all suffered scratches and cuts but are expected to cycle today in the last leg of the six-day race.
After an emergency meeting, the organizers decided to appoint winners based on their performances before the pile-up.
The four leading contestants --Tonton Susanto of the Giant Asia Racing Team, Shimbo from Japan, Fukushima of Taiwan's Continental Team and Wong Ah Thiam from Malaysia -- who had sped out of the main group before the crash occurred, shared the fifth stage's title and prize money.
The stage was to cover a distance of 182.2km from the Nantou County Government building to Shanshang Village in Tainan County.
Wong Kam Po from Hong Kong won the title of King of Mountain. Matej Jurco of the Merida International Team and Chadwick Glen of the Giant Asia Racing Team were placed second and third in the "King of the Mountain" category.
The last stage will be held outside the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts and will start at 1pm today.
Contestants will have to circle the museum 24 times -- a total distance of 60km
Ferinanto wins last leg but Wong wins Tour
The Tour de Taiwan 2002 ended yesterday in Kaohsiung with Indonesia's Ferinanto winning the last stage. But it was Hong Kong cyclist Wong Kam Po who walked away with the top prize after the times for all the six stages were added up.
Wong's total time was 16 hours 48 minutes 8 seconds.
The distance covered during the entire six-day race was 693km.
Second and third places went to Merida International's Matej Jurco and Giant Asia's Romark respectively.
Wong also won the King of the Mountain title, while the sprinting prize went to Ferinanto.
The team title went to Gaint Asia, which ended with a combined time of 50 hours 33 minutes 22 seconds. The team from Hong Kong placed second and Japan won third place.
Yesterday's final leg was a 60km round-city race in Kaohsiung. Ferinanto won the stage with a time of 1 hour and 25 minutes. Fellow Indonesian Matnur won second place and Merida International's Jurco won third place. Ferinanto was in the No. 6 position until the last 200m, when the sprinting champion overtook his rivals.
Continental Taiwan won the team prize for the last leg.
A considerable crowd showed up to cheer for the riders yesterday. The awards ceremony was held at the Grand Hotel in Kaohsiung last night.
A total of 12 teams participated in the event, which included riders from Kazakhastan, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Hong Kong, as well as Europe, Asia and international teams sponsored by bicycle manufacturers Giant and Merida.
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