KOM ranked in top 10
With a grueling 105km route that takes cyclists through mountains, including an 87km continual ascent, the Taiwan KOM (King of the Mountain) Challenge has earned its place on a list of the world’s 10 toughest by French magazine Le Cycle. The annual uphill bike race through the mountain ranges of central Taiwan is the only one outside of Europe to make the list put out by the major French publication. Featuring the event in its January issue, Le Cycle called the KOM Challenge the only one in Asia comparable to classic routes through Europe’s Alps and the Pyrenees mountain ranges. The race starts from the Qixingtan scenic area in Hualien followed by a 87km climb via the breathtaking Toroko Gorge to Wuling, a peak of Hehuanshan, which rises to an elevation of 3,275m. Johnson Wang, director of the Taipei Tourism Office in Germany, said the KOM Challenge is an extreme event that all cycling enthusiasts around the world should experience. He expressed hope that the recognition from Le Cycle would raise awareness of the difficult race among challenge-seeking professional cyclists. The arduous event was also featured in German weekly Die Zeit in December.
Olympics ‘too far’: Li Na
China’s No. 1 Li Na will probably not play at the Olympics in 2016, the 31-year-old said at the Australian Open yesterday. Li, who narrowly missed out on a medal at the Beijing Games in 2008 when she lost the bronze decider to Russia’s Vera Zvonareva, crashed out in the first round at the 2012 London Games. “I think it’s time for younger players to have a chance at the Olympics,” world No. 4 Li told reporters in Mandarin at Melbourne Park. “I don’t think I’ll be playing at the Olympics. As far as I’m concerned, the Olympics are too far away.” The 2011 French Open winner has been a reluctant standard-bearer for Chinese tennis in the past and reacted furiously in 2012 when her country’s tennis administration entered her to play Olympic doubles with Zhang Shuai at London without consulting her.
Kings to accept bitcoin
The Sacramento Kings said on Thursday they would begin accepting bitcoin, the first professional sports team to accept the virtual currency. Fans would be able to use bitcoin for tickets and team merchandise from March 1, using the cryptocurrency’s payment processor BitPay. The Kings said the move was part of majority team owner Vivek Ranadive’s “NBA 3.0” philosophy, aimed at tapping technology to boost the team. “With BitPay, we are able to implement a technology that allows our fans to make Kings-related purchases without physically reaching into their wallets,” Ranadive said in a statement. Based in Sacramento, California, the Kings have done poorly since last appearing in the post-season playoffs in 2006.
McLaren CEO returns
Ron Dennis regained control of McLaren’s Formula One team on Thursday, returning as chief executive in a bid to revive the team’s flagging fortunes. Dennis stepped aside from his involvement with the F1 side of the business in 2009 after 27 years as team principal amid the fallout from a lying scandal. Dennis was left with responsibility for building commercial sports cars for McLaren. Dennis is back as CEO in charge of the team he led to 10 drivers’ championships, the last produced by Lewis Hamilton in 2008, and seven constructors’ championships.