Ngai Hing's Reid takes yellow jersey

NEW Zealander Rick Reid kept the colours of Hongkong's Ngai Hing team flying by finishing third in the fourth leg of the Tour de Taiwan yesterday, taking the overall leader's yellow jersey from teammate Graeme Miller.

Reid, the individual champion in the 1990 Tour, was a close third behind an Australian and a Dutchman in the demanding 170-kilometre race from Taichung to Chiayi, a treacherous climb up the Alisan mountain.

The trio broke from the pack in the last 40 kilometres and Australia's Alan Race sprinted away to win in four hours and 49 minutes.

Miller, winner of the third stage from Panchiao to Tachia on Monday, and teammate Brendan Hart were among the main group of 11 riders who finished some five minutes farther back.

But Commonwealth Games gold medallist Miller saw the two-minute advantage he held before setting off for Chiayi evaporate and he now trails Reid by more than three minutes in the individual standings.

Ngai Hing manager Vincent Tse On-po said: ''We are very pleased with the team's performance today but it's unfortunate that Chris Barnsley had to pull out after less than 20 kilometres.

''Chris badly injured his knee in a fall on Monday but he will be on pain killers for tomorrow's race to Kaohsiung and we are confident of making up ground in the team category.'' Ngai Hing were sixth among the 29 teams going into the fourth race after being hit by punctures and mechanical trouble in the third leg in which stage winner Miller was the only team member to escape unscathed.

But with three riders finishing in the top 10 yesterday, Tse expects Ngai Hing to be back in contention for the team championship.

''Although Graeme won the third stage, it was a disaster for the team as a whole as we lost considerable time overall and trailed Holland's Giant Europe by about 12 minutes,'' said Tse.

''Giant Europe were the only other team to have three riders in the first two groups today, so we didn't actually make much ground on them but we should have overtaken a couple of teams and moved up to second or third place now.''