UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, Luke Keough Win Opening Stage at tour of Taiwan
Held in conjunction with the Taipei International Cycle Show, the Tour of Taiwan opened racing on Sunday under stormy skies, in the shadow of Taipei 101, one of the world’s tallest and most iconic buildings. While the weather only slightly deterred attendance, it made for exciting, somewhat chaotic racing on the day, as riders put on a display of technical excellence and growing spring fitness for Taiwanese cycling fans and the larger bike industry, as the show has a who’s-who of industry on the island at the moment.
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling’s Luke Keough took the win, along with the race leader’s and sprinter’s jerseys on the day, as John Murphy and Keough were able to use their experience and skill to maintain contact in the run up to the finish, which included two greasy, cobbled corners in the last 1.5k. Murphy delivered Keough into the closing meters and Keough took care of the rest, earning the men’s team’s second victory of the early season.
Team Director Mike Tamayo said of the day, “The boys were apprehensive at the start, with the wet conditions, but as the race developed, so did their confidence. Having quality tires on a day like this can make all the difference.”
The race opened with characteristic early attacks that initially saw a a two-man break get a little over a minute on the field. However, the break was not to last, as the conditions and uncertainty created a situation in which the UnitedHealthcare and Cannondale teams both saw advantage in organizing to control the race and set a high tempo. Simply, if you’re able, it’s safer to ride from the front in these types of conditions. Keough thanked his teammates for their efforts on the day for this reason, “The opening stage was fast and chaotic. The team rode well and with only five guys, teamwork is crucial. Jeff Louder rode the front with other teams to keep the break in check. Coming into the finish was crazy, but we made it through the last turns around the crashes and didn’t look back. This is a great way to start the race.”
Tamayo concurred, “We wanted to hit the ground running from the start of this tour. First goal accomplished.”
Monday’s stage two is a 152km affair that does several distinct loops within Taoyuan County, which will be immediately familiar to all frequent travelers to Taiwan. The course begins near the Performing Arts Center, with the finish located near the Taoyuan Naval Aviation Base and Taoyuan International Airport.