Tamouridis bounces back after Euskaltel disillusion
Di Gregorio in a tight lead with one day to go
Greek champion Ioannis Tamouridis of SP Tableware won the queen stage of the 2014 Tour de Taiwan at the Zengwen Reservoir thirty-three kilometers after passing the summit of Guanziling where Nathan Earle now with Team Sky imposed himself one year ago. He moved up to second place, only four seconds down on race leader Rémy Di Gregorio who is also under serious threat by new points classification leader Marco Zanotti of Parkhotel Valkenburg with only one stage remaining.
Local hero Feng Chung Kai of Team Gusto managed to cross the KOM line of Guanziling in first place, which earns him his third polka dot jersey in three consecutive years at the Tour de Taiwan as there’s no more climb on the route. He made the junction with Di Gregorio, Italian climber in the making Davide Formolo of Cannondale and Iran’s Hossein Alizadeh from Tabriz Ranking who rode away in the climb. A group of twenty riders was formed at the front, from which Tamouridis, Brian Bulgac, also from Parkhotel Valkenburg, and Cameron Wurf (Cannondale) broke clear with five kilometers to go.
“I had no choice but open my sprint from 500 metres out, otherwise we would have been caught”, explained Tamouridis who outsprinted Bulgac and kept an advantage of only two seconds over the chasing group. “This is my first race of the year and I didn’t have a good preparation so it took me a few days to find the rhythm. My motivation went down after Euskaltel folded. I had joined the World Tour pretty late at the age of 32 but I was hoping to stay there for a while. One year ago, I was racing Tirreno-Adriatico before the big Spring classics and the Giro d’Italia. It’s another world!”
Tamouridis made a top 10 at the Giro (on stage 12), where Bulgac was also racing for Lotto-Belisol. He finished his duty with the Spanish Pro Team on a high note with coming ninth at Paris-Tours in October. “Now I’m second on GC and really not far from winning the overall classification of the Tour de Taiwan but I’m already happy with what I got today as I didn’t think I could win something here with the condition I had but the hard work made in the World Tour last year definitely helped me winning here”, said the Greek who might take profit of his experience as a track rider to score some more time bonus during the last stage. “Terrific Taiwan” consists in fourteen laps of a 14km flat and windy circuit around Dapeng Bay in the south of the country.
“We’ve passed the hardest stage”, commented Di Gregorio. “I’ve avoided the traps so far but I don’t feel like I’ve won the Tour de Taiwan yet. It’s not easy to control a race with a team of only five riders. My team-mates have done a great job in the past three days but it seems much longer than that. We feel the fatigue and I cross my fingers for keeping the lead tomorrow.”
With three intermediate sprints and ten seconds time bonus up for grab on the finishing line, the top ten riders on GC can still hope for succeeding to Bernard Sulzberger who won the Tour de Taiwan last year.