Annual Taiwan KOM Challenge to get underway in Hualien

The ninth Taiwan KOM Challenge will get underway Oct. 23 in eastern Taiwan’s Hualien County, involving 425 cyclists from 22 countries and territories competing in one of the world’s toughest hill climb courses, according to the Tourism Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.
This year’s KOM race is of particular significance as 2020 is the Year of Mountain Tourism, a promotion launched by the bureau to encourage travelers from home and abroad to explore Taiwan’s breathtaking mountains, the TB said.
While the one-day event has been scaled down this year due to COVID-19, the TB said the 105-kilometer race features top athletes such as John Ebsen from Denmark, who has been participating in the event since its launch and won in 2012, 2014 and 2018.
Starting at 6 a.m. from Qixingtan Beach at sea level, contestants will race along the Pacific coast and through the spectacular Taroko Gorge before cycling west into central Taiwan’s Nantou County and finishing at Wuling Pass on Mt. Hehuan in Taroko National Park.
After the first 18 kilometers, riders will ascend at an average rate of 8 percent for the following 62 kilometers. The subsequent 15-kilometer stretch offer a brief downhill reprieve before the incline tops out at 27 percent during the final 10 kilometers en route to the highest point of Taiwan’s highway system at 3,275 meters in altitude.
Organized by Taiwan Cyclist Federation with support from the Tourism Bureau, the challenge was first held in 2012 as part of the annual Taiwan Cycling Festival. It was voted among the world’s top 10 most difficult cycling races in 2014 by French magazine Le Cycle. (SFC-E)
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