Despite traveling half-way around the world just two days earlier, members of the Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented
by Maxxis showed no signs of jet lag in the opening stage of the 2008 Tour de Taiwan. Certainly John Murphy had the legs going.
Murphy swept the three intermediate sprints out on the course during the 88 km circuit race, which included 40 laps of
a 2.2 km course, and finished seventh on the stage to take the Tour's first green points leader's jersey.
"The team did an excellent job of leading out Murphy for the sprints," noted team directeur sportif Mike Tamayo. "Kyle
(Gritters) was particularly instrumental. On the second sprint, we did a drag-race leadout and Murphy just killed it."
The stage was won by Kam Po Wong of Team Hong Kong. In addition to scooping up enough points to earn the green sprinter's
jersey, Murphy also earned nine seconds in time bonuses that put him in second overall, just one second behind Wong.
But the green jersey wasn't enough. At stage 2 John Murphy earned the yellow leader's jersey in much the same way he earned
the green points jersey in Stage 1.
Murphy won the second and third intermediate sprints out on the road during the 111 km circuit race, run on a 14 km course,
and finished 10th on the stage while helping teammate Kirk O'Bee to 7th on the stage. Time bonuses for the sprint moved him
ahead of previous leader Kam Po Wong of Team Hong Kong.
"For the second day in a row, the team executed really well in leading out Murphy for the sprints," said team directeur
sportif Mike Tamayo. "They were never in doubt."
The 24-year-old Murphy now finds himself in the yellow leader's jersey in his first major UCI stage race in Asia. "I was
really excited to take the green jersey after the first stage," Murphy said. "But having the yellow jersey is one of the highlights
of my career."
Murphy is not known for his climbing prowess, but he is known as a tireless worker. He used that work ethic - and the form
he built during the Amgen Tour of California - to get over the first major climbs of the 2008 Tour de Taiwan and retain his
yellow leader's jersey after today's 117 km third stage.
Murphy finished 7th on the stage, three seconds behind stage winner Peter McDonald (Drapac Porsche), who moved up to second
overall on GC, five seconds behind Murphy.
"The guys rode really well again today," noted team directeur sportif Mike Tamayo. "There were a lot of cross-winds that
did some damage to the peloton. We tried to stay attentive and police the front of the pack."
The most dangerous move of the day, which started as a three-man break but grew to six with 40 km remaining in the stage,
achieved a gap of three minutes at one point.
"We put Roman (Kilun) and Kyle (Gritters) on the front and they did a lot of work to bring it back, particularly Kyle,"
By the time the peloton reached the first of two climbs in the final 20 km of the stage, the gap was down to 0:45, and
the break was absorbed going over the top of the 1.5 km climb.
There were a few late attacks, including a strong one put in by a rider from the Merida team, who opened a gap of 0:20
with just 3 km to go, but Kilun went to the front and nailed it back.
"Murphy really showed his form by hitting the uphill sprint to the line at the front with 700 meters to go and finishing
strong," Tamayo said.
Murphy won the second intermediate sprint on the road today to earn an additional five points to solidify his lead in the
points competition. The sprint win was also good for a three-second time bonus.
In Wednesday’s 88 km fourth stage, a 40-lap criterium run on a 2.2 km loop, the 24-year-old finished third despite
getting cut off in the sprint to the line.
In the final lap, the German Merida team was setting the pace, with Murphy
sitting comfortably behind their train awaiting the final sprint.
“Coming to the line, Murphy started his sprint,
but then a Merida rider stuffed him in the barriers,” said team directeur sportif Mike Tamayo. “He kept it upright,
but it was a dicey moment. Murphy had to recover with 200 meters to go and find a new opening. He managed to slip out, sprint
again and finish third.”
Merida’s Jezowski Krzystof won the stage, with Taiji Nishitani (Asian Racing Team)
Not only did the 3rd place on the stage give Murphy a four-second time bonus and 10 additional points toward
his lead in the points competition, but he was busy out on the road for the three intermediate sprints as well.
won the first sprint 16 laps into the race convincingly, Tamayo said. By the race’s mid-point, an eight-man break had
finally established after numerous attacks, including aggressive riding by Murphy’s Health Net Presented by Maxxis teammates
Kirk O’Bee and Kyle Gritters. With no riders of any danger in either the overall or points competitions in the break,
the team was content to let the riders up the road scoop up the points and time bonuses for the second sprint, with 16 laps
But as the race went on, Health Net Presented by Maxxis led the chase to bring things back together, and once
again set up Murphy for an intermediate sprint win with eight to go, while teammate O’Bee hung on for second place after
providing the lead-out.
The two intermediate sprint wins, combined with the third place on the stage, gave Murphy an
additional 10 seconds of bonus time to pad his narrow lead in the overall classification, and 20 points to solidify his green
points jersey lead as well.