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Korea’s Park Sung Baek sprinted to victory on Sunday in the Taipei City Criterium, stage one of the Tour de Taiwan, to put the disappointment of last year’s Asian Games behind him.
In Guangzhou 2010, the Korean was denied the gold medal in the men’s road race when he was adjudged to have impeded Hong Kong’s Wong Kam Po in the sprint to the finish line.
But this time there was no controversy as Sung Baek was clearly ahead of his nearest challenger Bernardo Riccio (D’Angelo & Antennuci), who had to settle for the second spot. Dean Downing (Rapha Condor) finished third.
I’m just happy to win, it is always good to take a stage,” said the 26-year-old, who began his professional career with Taiwan-based Giant-Asia Racing team back in 2005.
“The team did a great job for me and Jang (Chan Jae) did a perfect lead-out for me. I was a little concerned of crashes at the start of this race and that was the reason why I was a little cautious.
“For the next several days, the strategy will still be the same and that is to look for the opportunity to take another stage win, although I really can’t wait for the climb to start.”
With the peloton having to complete 60 laps over a 1km circuit, the race saw several teams setting the early pace although it was to be Wai Man Chau of Hong Kong who took the first sprint.
But the Korean national team was quick to get to the front of the pack and Chan Jae was consistent throughout the remaining two sprints to pick up 11 points and give the rhythm to Sung Baek for the finish.
“I’m just happy to work for the team and to see Sung Baek win the stage,” said Chan Jae, who took the sprinter’s green jersey.
Adam Phelan (Drapac) retained the leader’s yellow jersey going into Monday’s stage two, a 118km leg from New Taipei City Hall to Linshanbi.
“I’m happy to be in the yellow still. I can’t quite sprint like some of the guys here so it was important that I keep out of trouble. We will see what happens in the next few days,” said Phelan. Mart Ojavee (Champion System) is second overall in the same time as Phelan with Dean Downing (Rapha Condor-Sharp) at two seconds back.
American Michael Friedman (Kelly Benefit Strategies) sits fourth in the same time as Downing.
The blue jersey for best ranked Asian rider went to Junya Sano (D’Angelo & Antenucci-Nippo) after being ranked eighth in the general classification — five seconds behind tour leader Phelan.
“It feels good to be in the blue jersey but there are a lot of good riders here and they all would want to win it. So I will just have to stick to the team strategy and hope for the best in the next few stages,” added Junya.
“It will be tough for me in the climbs as I’m not a climber, so I hope that I will get to wear this jersey as long as I can.”
- 1. Sung Baek Park (Kor), Korea, 1:21:39
- 2. Bernardo Riccio (Ita), d’Angelo & Antenucci-Nippo, s.t.
- 3. Dean Downing (Gbr), Rapha Condor-Sharp, s.t.
- 4. Dean Windsor (Aus), Rapha Condor-Sharp, s.t.
- 5. Chan Jae Jang (Kor), Korea, s.t.
- 1. Adam Phelan (Aus), Drapac Porsche Cycling, 1:24:22
- 2. Mart Ojavee (Est), Champion System, s.t.
- 3. Dean Downing (Gbr), Rapha Condor-Sharp, at 0:02
- 4. Michael Friedman (USA), Kelly Benefit Strategies, at 0:02
- 5. Dene Rogers (Nzl), Giant-Kenda, at 0:02