When the Tour de Taiwan begins this weekend, the majority of cyclists at the start line in Taipei will be Europeans, the organizers said yesterday.
“We have seen a huge increase in the level of interest from European cyclists this year, who account for the majority of competitors,” Chinese Taipei Cycling Association secretary-general Lee Kai-chih said.
The race, Taiwan’s major international cycling event, has become more attractive to European cyclists following its upgrade last year from class 2.2 to class 2.1, Lee said.
Under the rating system of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world bicycle racing governing body, a 2.1 classification means that it is a multi-day event that is open to national and UCI professional continental teams.
The upgrade is a reflection of the Tour de Taiwan’s rising position in Asia, Lee said.
He said the stage race would be held from tomorrow to Thursday, with the participation of cyclists from countries like Norway, France, the US, China and Iran.
The 200 cyclists from 30 countries are to cover a distance of 676km, riding south from Taipei to Taoyuan, Changhua and Tainan, and finishing at the Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area in Pingtung County.
At the start, the cyclists are to make several laps in the capital and will later be tested on different types of terrain, the organizers said.
The race follows in the wake of the Taipei International Cycle Show, the world’s second-biggest bike show, which closes today.
At a welcoming party yesterday, the riders were treated to local cuisine, which appeared to go down well.
Now in its 26th year, the race is being promoted by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau on the “Taiwan Tourism Calendar,” which aims to help international tourists get a snapshot of events taking place throughout the year.