Twenty-three professional cycling teams from 30 countries are preparing to compete in the Tour de Taiwan, which starts on Monday.
The cycling tour was rated a class 2.1 event by the International Cycling Union last year.
During the seven-day race, competitors will ride through five scenic areas — Dapeng Bay (大鵬灣), Siraya (西拉雅), the southwest coast, the tri-mountain area and Guanyinshan (北海岸和觀音山) on the north coast.
Tourism Bureau Director-General David Hsieh (謝謂君) said that in the past the race was mostly conducted on highways, but the bureau intends to combine tourism and cycling this year and wanted to promote scenic areas throughout the event.
“We used to have many cycling races on the east coast, but we also have many beautiful cycling routes on the west coast,” he said. “Each of these areas is different.”
Hsieh said that the race’s starting point will be Dapeng Bay in Pingtung County, which is known for its lagoons and mangroves, as well as being an ideal place for sailing.
Athletes can enjoy black tuna there as well, he added.
The scenic views on the north coast offer athletes stunning landscapes and breezes from the Pacific Ocean, he said.
The Froy-Bianchi team from Norway arrived two weeks ago to start training for the race.
Team leader Morten Sandvik said this was their first visit to Taiwan and that team members have enjoyed the food and the scenery, and meeting local residents.
“The training in Taiwan has been really good,” Sandvik said. “Because it is the first race of our season there are a lot of long training rides. We stayed in Donggang (東港) [in Pingtung]. We also went to Sandimen (三地門) [in Pingtung], where we rode up and down the mountain road. The scenery is beautiful.”
The Chinese Taipei Cycling Association said the race had attracted 184 professional cyclists from 30 countries, with total prize money of NT$5 million (US$168,000).
The athletes are to spend next week riding in Pingtung County, Greater Tainan, Changhua County, Greater Taichung, New Taipei City (新北市) and Taipei.
The total race distance is 890km.