Uzbek rules 3rd leg; Scholz hangs toughBy June Navarro
Philippine Daily Inquirer
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya —Superior in the hills, Azamat Turaev swore he could be exceptional in the mountains.
The skipper of the Uzbekistan Suren Team flaunted his strength in the highlands and soloed it home in yesterday’s Stage 3 of the Le Tour de Filipinas that ended in this quiet town in the foothills of the majestic Sierra Madre mountains.
“The steeper, the better,” the 19-year-old Turaev said through an interpreter after crossing the line at the Nueva Vizcaya capitol in two hours, 23 minutes and 36 seconds at the end of the energy-sapping 102.5-kilometer ascent from Cauayan City.
“Tomorrow (today) is our race,” said Uzbekistan Suren team manager Mostafa Chaichi. “We ride better in the mountains.”
Today’s massed-start finale is a back-breaking 132.7 km grind to Baguio City where the champion will be crowned.
The torturous climb in the Cordilleras will be punctuated by a steep and winding Hors-category (beyond categorization; incredibly tough) climb after an early uphill ride 30 km into the race.
From eighth overall, Turaev jumped to fifth, threatening yellow jersey holder Timo Scholz of Germany, who was surprised to retain the lead.
“I didn’t expect to keep the yellow (jersey),” said the 39-year-old Scholz of the CCN Cycling Team. “Honestly, I’m not in a good shape to defend it.”
“We’ll see what happens tomorrow,” added the track specialist who admitted that the heat in the past three days had tolled heavily on him.
Scholz finished 18th in the stage, 21 seconds behind Turaev, in the company of a big group of riders that included contenders Alexander Malone of Australia, Singapore’s Loh Sea Keong and Filipino Stage 1 winner Oscar Rendole.
Except for Turaev’s leap to fifth, none of the riders in the top 10 lost any significant amount of time.
Malone still comfortably sits in second, 26 seconds behind Scholz, while Loh (0:35) and Rendole (1:06) hardly moved at all.
Dutchman Koos Jeroen Kers, who was dislodged by Turaev, fell to sixth, 1:46 back, with Rudy Roque and New Zealand’s James Williamson (both 1:52 behind) dropping a notch to seventh and eighth, followed by Baler Ravina (2:11) and Indonesia’s Rastra Patria (2:13).
“The foreigners are really strong climbers,” said Rendole of Mail & More. “We need a little bit of luck tomorrow.”
Turaev and teammate Hamid Shirisisan launched an attack early in San Antonio, Isabela, some 20 km into the race, and towed seven other riders with them.
The Uzbeks sustained the charge into the hills of Diadi, Nueva Vizcaya, along with Taiwanese Feng Chun-kai, Japan’s Masakazu Ito and Shinichi Fukushima and Australian Daniel Bonello.
Feng took the King of the Mountain summit after Turaev saved energy for a strong finish, letting the Action Cycling captain conquer the peak of a 15-kilometer stretch of hilly terrain made difficult by several sharp, ascending turns.
After the last intermediate sprint in Bagabag town, Turaev slowly pulled away.
When the six-man lead group reached Solano with three kilometers left, the former Asian road race junior champion left the pack for good.
Stage 3 Results
STAGE INDIVIDUAL CLASSIFICATION
1. Turaev, Azamat (UST) 2:23:36, 2. Feng, Chun Kai (ACT) 0:15, 3. Fukushima, Shinichi (TSG) 0:17, 4. Shirisisan, Hamid (UST) same time, 5. Ito, Masakazu (AIS) same time, 6. Bonello, Daniel (PBR) same time, 7. Jang, Paul Morales (KIA) 0:21, 8. Roque, Rudy (AVL) same time, 9. Jang, Chan Jae (TSG) same time, 10. Fukuda, Shimpei (AIS) same time, 11. Mat Amin, Mohd Sharul (TSG) same time, 12. Hualda, Ronnel (AVL) same time, 13. Rodger Shem (BNZ) same time, 14. Hsiao, Shih Hsin (ACT) same time, 15. Kers, Koos Jeroen (GLB) same time, 16. Patria, Rastra (COL) same time, 17. Van Uden, Roman (BNZ) same time, 18. Scholz, Timo (CCN) same time, 19. De Groot, Wouter (GLB) same time, 20. Obosa, Ericson (G21) same time
INDIVIDUAL GENERAL CLASSIFICATION
1. Scholz, Timo (CCN) 8:42:15, 2. Malone, Alexander (PBR) 0:26, 3. Loh (OCBC) 0:35, 4. Rendole (1:06), 5. Turaev, Azamat (UST) 1:39, 6. Kers, Koos Jeroen (GLB) 1:46, 7. Roque, Rudy (AVL) 1:52, 8. Williamson, James (BNZ) 1:52, 9. Ravina, Baler (G21) 2:11, 10. Patria, Rastra (COL) 2:13, 11. Quirimit, Arnel (G21) 3:25, 12. Shirisisan, Hamid (UST) 3:36, 13. Lim, Rustom (AVL) 3:39, 14. Calderon, Joel (MM) 3:45, 15. Suzuki, Kenichi (AIS) 4:36, 16. Hualda, Ronnel (AVL) 4:50, 17. Martin, Rey (MM) 4:53, 18. Barnachea, Santy (G21) 4:58, 19. Jang, Chan (TSG) 5:14, 20. Abdaziz, Muhammad (CCN) 5:17
Tags: Le Tour de Filipinas