This year’s Tour de Taiwan moved on to Stage 3 on March 13th. Contestants started their race at HSR Hsinchu Station after the starting pistol was fired together by Hsinchu County Magistrate Chiu Ching-chun, Deputy Minister of Hakka Affairs Council Yiong Cong-ziin, Miaoli County Deputy Magistrate Deng Gui-ju, CEO of Tour de Taiwan Li Kai-zhi, and Legislator Lin Wei-zhou. The route totaled 158.3 kilometers from Zhubei, Hsinchu County to Shigang, Taichung City, via townships including Xinpu, Guanxi, Hengshan, Zhudong, Beipu, and Emei. Hsinchu County Government gathered crowds from 6 township offices and 9 elementary and junior high schools to cheer for the contestants along the route.
Magistrate Chiu showed a cordial welcome to the 20 teams from all over the world, including Unitedhealthcare Professional Cycling Team, Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini, Israel Cycling Academy, and Chinese Taipei National Team. Hsinchu County Cultural Affairs Bureau specially invited local band Mr.One Cajon to sing traditional and pop Hakka songs as well as Atayal youngsters from the Qinquan Tribe to give a dance show. The performances not only praised Hakka people’s perseverance, diligence and thriftiness, but also passed down aboriginal cultures of Taiwan. The harmonious atmosphere among multiple ethnic groups and the charms of Hakka Romantic Avenue were broadcast across the world through this international cycling event.
Deputy Minister of Hakka Affairs Council Yiong Cong-ziin said that the most beautiful and challenging route of Tour de Taiwan this year was Hakka Romantic Avenue in Stage 3, along which cyclists would be greeted with the picturesque landscapes of Hakka villages. However, he was also worried that the scenery would distract the attentions of the contestants and pose a danger. Thus, he suggested the contestants focus on the race first and then travel around Hakka Romantic Avenue after the competition.
CEO of Tour de Taiwan Li Kai-zhi mentioned that Stage 3 included a uphill challenge of up to 800 meters above sea level, which was the most thrilling part and the key to final victory. Besides, he saw Magistrate Chiu’s efforts to improve the internationalization of Hsinchu County and promote Hakka cultures to the world by all means. He believed that the results would be fruitful.
For many foreign contestants, it was their first time to come to Taiwan, and they were intrigued by the specially-designed cycling route that went around Hakka villages. Three-time winner of Taiwan KOM Challenge Feng Chun-kai was also happy about the route design. He indicated although this route was said by many cyclists to be very tough, he was confident in achieving a great result.