The Taiwan KOM Challenge 2014 takes place on 15 November, and will see athletes such as Emma Pooley battle it out over the course’s unique 105km climb for a slice of an increased prize pot of NT$2,410,000 (New Taiwan dollars – equivalent to around US$80,000 / AU$90,000 / £48,000). The Taiwan KOM Challenge takes riders up a massive 3,375m / 11,000ft in elevation.
The Taiwan Travel Bureau and Taiwan Cyclist Federation have announced the increased prize purse along with the introduction of a zero-tolerance drug policy – the first of its kind in Asia.
The top six riders will be tested, and there will be additional random tests, while athletes with previous records of doping will be unable to compete. This step marks an important drive towards credibility for the event, after last year’s winner, Rahim Emami of Iran, took first prize just after returning from a drugs ban for Clenbuterol use in 2011.
The Taiwan Cyclist Federation says it feels this decision reflects the current climate in world cycling and that is one that will encourage fairness.
NT$1,000,000 (US$33,376) will go to the men’s winner this year – compared to US$2,000 in 2013 – and the event will pay down to sixth place. The first female will receive NT$200,000 (US$6,675) from a total ladies’ prize purse of NT$440,000 (US$15,000).
Pros and amateurs take on what is surely the biggest cycling hill climb in the world:Aaron Lee / TCF
Pros and amateurs take on what is surely the biggest cycling hill climb in the world
The event boasts an astonishingly long 105km upwards route that travels from the eastern coastal town of Hualien and rises up to the HeHuan Mountain at 3,375m. The first 97km features an average grade of seven percent before the steepness ramps up to an average of 17 percent, including a leg-shattering maximum incline of 27 per cent – all within a 6.5-hour time limit.
Previous pros to take on the Taiwan KOM Challenge include Jeremy Roy, Anthony Charteau and Tiffany Cromwell. British star Emma Pooley is confirmed for this year’s event. The organisers also say they are in talks with other top professionals and will release details of these athletes nearer the race.