Metropolitan Park, Taiwan – The Champion System Pro Cycling Team earned its first win of the season when Zach Bell beat six fellow breakaway riders to the line on Thursday’s Stage 4 of the Tour de Taiwan.
Champion System was front and center right from the start when Chun Kai Feng escaped at kilometer zero and 16 riders followed, including Bell. From this front group, Bell and six other riders attacked with 50 kilometers remaining in the 115 km race. The group built a lead of nearly two-and-a-half minutes.
With 10 km to go, the escapees were joined by a group of five chasers. The merged group had only 31 seconds on the chasing peloton with 3 km to go. But the escapees stayed organized and Bell, a two-time runner-up at the UCI world track championships in the omnium, used his experience and sprinted to his first win since capturing Stage 7 of the Vuelta a El Salvador in May of 2007.
“I’m very happy with the way all the boys rode today,” Champion System Assistant Director Chris Wherry said.
Bell, who was a late signee to the Champion System team this year, said he saw the win as further proof that he made the right decision switching full time to the road.
“I felt that the Tour of Taiwan would be a perfect way for me to start the 2013 season and begin a renewed commitment to road cycling,” he said. “I know we have a really solid team here and I’m very happy to be able to deliver the Champion System team our first win of the season.”
Bernard Sulzberger (DRAPAC Cycling) moved into the leader’s jersey, displacing Kirill Pozdnyakov (Synergy Baku Cycling Project). Feng finished 26th, 25 seconds behind. Adiq Othman remains Champion System’s best placed rider in 11th overall, 53 seconds back.
With three more stages to go, Champion System will continue focusing on stage wins, said General Manager Ed Beamon. Friday’s stage is 144 km, running from Taoyuan County Hall to Kanpanzan, and features an uphill finish.
“We sent a very competitive squad to Taiwan with multiple opportunities to go for wins,” Beamon said. “I’m very happy for Zach and the team, and I think Zach is going to play an important role on the team as the season goes on.”
Taiwan native Feng, winner of last year’s king of the mountains competition, is still fighting for mountain points and remains four points behind leader Chen Lu Qin (Max Success Sports Cycling Team). While Feng failed to earn any additional points on Stage 4, Wherry recognized that the new signee is showing promise.
“Kai (Feng) was especially aggressive and despite the lack of result for him, he is showing tremendous heart in his home tour,” Wherry said.
Photo: © Tour de Taiwan.