Avila Beach, Cali. - The Champion System Pro Cycling Team grabbed attention for the third straight day at the Amgen Tour of California when Chun Kai Feng made the initial breakaway of Stage 5 Thursday.
"With our goal of developing and promoting cycling in Asia - to have Taiwan's top rider in the break lends credibility to our mission," Champion System General Manager Ed Beamon said. "We've been trying for the last couple of days to get Kin San Wu and Chun Kai Feng into breaks."
Feng ignited the race with an early escape that included Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team) and king of the mountains leader Carter Jones (Bissell Pro Cycling). The trio worked well together and amassed a lead of eight-and-a-half minutes on the peloton. Feng, who recently earned "most aggressive rider" honors on the final stage of the 4 Jours de Dunkerque stage race in France, was runner-up over San Marcos Pass and took top honors at the second intermediate sprint.
"We would have liked to have had a couple more guys in the break," Beamon said. "With just three guys and a tough early parcours, and wind later on, it was a pretty tough go. That being said, Chun Kai Feng was able to hold his own."
Working to ensure a sprint finish, the driving peloton quickly brought back Feng's group and the catch seemed inevitable. But strong crosswinds, combined with a fierce acceleration from the RadioShack Leopard team, caused the peloton to splinter. An elite group of chasers - which included Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) and Stage 3 and 4 stage winners Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) - caught Feng's trio with 55 kilometers remaining in the 186-km race. Feng and his counterparts were unable to keep pace and the race leader, Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman), was also left behind.
Entering the final 10 km, the front group had nearly a minute's advantage and Jens Voigt (RadioShack Leopard) attacked with four km to go to solo to the win. The remaining escapees rolled in six seconds later which moved van Garderen into the leader's jersey.
Feng, a former Taiwan national road champion, finished the day in 18th, 1:04 behind Voigt. Chad Beyer is Champion System's best-placed rider overall in 21st, 7:22 behind van Garderen.
"To me, being out there for a long break was learning practice," Feng said. "Plus it could provide good opportunities for media exposure for Champion System."
Friday's Stage 6, 32-km individual time trial ends with a 3-km climb that gains more than 300 meters in elevation and features sections of more than 10 percent gradient.