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 (蔡俊明) and Wong Kam Po (黃金寶), 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.