The setting was perfect: the finish of the Tour de Taiwan’s queen stage was placed near the shore of the breathtaking Sun Moon Lake, a place that draws hundreds of thousands of tourists.

But for the IPT squad here, this natural beauty will be remembered with a bitter twist as the place where we lost the yellow jersey by the narrowest of margins. If the impressive Joe Blackmore had just won the sprint, he would have been the new leader of the race.

However, ‘ifs’ have very little meaning, and the reality is that after four days in yellow (with two great stage wins), IPT is going into Thursday’s final stage with Blackmore, who finished third today, five seconds behind the new leader, Ivan Cobo from Equipo Kern Pharma.

Everything seemed under control until the last 10 kilometers of the longest stage of the race, when a group of 15 riders managed to launch an effective attack on the final climb of the day. That was the moment when race leader Mason Hollyman could not keep the pace. “I just did not have the legs to finish the job,” the 23-year-old Brit explained later.

But we still had his strong teammate Blackmore, who did his utmost to win, knowing that winning – and securing the 10 bonus seconds – was the only way to take the lead in the race.

In the uphill finish, he came very close, and that very fact is a tribute to him since he had to close a late attack by a group of four riders. “I started the sprint a bit late,” said Blackmore, the recent Tour du Rwanda winner.

Joe Blackmore, Tour de Taiwan stage 4

The disappointment was clear and understandably so, but there was no regret. Reflecting on his time in yellow, Hollyman added: “I wish to thank my teammates who did a pretty unbelievable job again. With Itamar [Einhorn] and Viggo [Moore] controlling the whole race on their own, and Joe and Daniel Lima also being there at the end.

“Personally, I didn’t have the legs to finish the job, but I don’t think I can be too disappointed, with the feelings being better than expected at this time.

“It’s something to build on in the next months. Hopefully, tomorrow’s a chance for me to repay the work now, with another opportunity to end on a high.”