The pre-race plan was to send Shane Braley up the road early, have Pete Morse and Bryson Bowers cover breaks, or prepare Daniele Defrancheschi and Enrico Traini for the final sprint if it came to that. An important goal was to show the organizers that the wild-card invitation was in good faith, that Jet Fuel came to the TdT to represent. That said, this being the first race of the season for the team, and coming after a day's worth of trans-Pacific flying, the other goal was to simply survive the first day intact.
The race started well with Shane showing the Jet Fuel colours in a number of early moves, always active at the front of the race:
Incredibly, mid-way through the race Shane hit a pedal on the ground, the force of which sheared off the entire retaining lip in his Shimano plastic cleat. A bizarre mechanical to say the least and with no hope of finding a spare part in the pits, it looked like Shane's day and entire Tour were sadly done only halfway into the first stage. More amazingly, a despondent Shane regained his resolve and jumped back into the pack, riding the 40+km at race-pace with only one foot clipped in! So despite finishing at the back of the race, his ride was actually one of the best in the race!
Keeping Shane out of the DFL (dead-fffing-last) position was Enrico whose sprinter's build was not acclimatizing well to the Kaoshiung heat and humidity after training in frosty Toronto all winter. Despite getting dropped and then lapped, Enrico battled on and on to stay in the race. Actually, Enrico quickly became one of the most recognizable riders in the race as he soloed OTB (off-the-back). His never-say-die attitude won over the approval of the spectators lining the course.
Bryson's ride was remarkable not because he finished the race, but because he was able to race at all. Last August, he broke his back in a terrible crash at a stage race in the USA. After having 2 titanium rods implanted in his back, he spent the autumn learning how to walk again. Now, only 7 months later, not only back on a bike but, racing in a UCI 2.2 Asia Tour event.
Pete was usually at the front-half of the race, but after effectively losing Shane and Enrico and then with Bryson fading late in the race, the veteran dropped back to protect Daniele and set him up for the impending sprint finish.
Even cyclingnews.com noticed this display of teamwork.
With a few laps left in the race, and the sprinters teams preparing for argy-bargy, a very aggressive move of 6 took advantage of the lull and jumped off the front and quickly built a significant 25 second gap. The break was composed of mostly Asian riders, which was an encouraging sign for Asian cycling fans. The break included the very dangerous and savvy veteran Wong Kam-Po from Hong-Kong as well as a Korean, an Indonesian and two Japansese, with a rider from Poland rounding out the half-dozen.
With 2.2 km to go, the gap was down to 15 seconds so it appeared that the pack still had a chance to close down the break before. However, as the race came around the final corner 100m before the line, the breakaway was still a couple of seconds ahead of the surging peloton! At the same instant that Wong Kam-Po blazed victorious across the finish-stripe, the sprint of the main pack caught the last rider of the break and both groups were credited with the same time.
Daniele placed 10th spot overall in the finish, but what the results don't show is that he was actually he was an awesome 4th place in the field sprint! Pete, who placed 18th ovcerall was actually 12th in the sprint, even after covering many early breaks and then working for Daniele much of the.
The adjusted field sprint standings would look like this:
1 (6th overall) Kirk O'bee (USA) Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by MaxxisA pretty awesome result for Daniele and the tiny Jet Fuel club-team head-to-head against the powerhouse American, European and Australian teams.
2 (7) John Murphy (USA) Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis
3 (9) Lofflerstefan (Ger) Giant Asia Racing Team
4 (10) Daniele Defranceschi (Can) Jet Fuel Coffee Cycling Team
5 (11) Jezowski Krzysztof (Pol) Merida Europe Team
6 (12) Peter Mcdonald (Aus) Drapac Porsche Development Program Team
7 (13) Po Hung Wu (Tpe) Kinan CCD Team
8 (14) Stuart Shaw (Aus) Drapac Porsche Development Program Team
9 (15) Mifune Masahiko (Jpn) e-MA Cycling Team
10 (16) Sung Baek Park (Kor) Seoul City Cycling Team
11 (17) Vladimir Yesid Lopez Gil (Col) Polygon Sweet Nice Racing Team
12 (18) Peter Morse (Can) Jet Fuel Coffee Cycling Team
For the Jet Fuel Coffee Cycling Team, Stage 1 of the TdT 2008 produced many small victories and an auspicious start to the Tour.