Aussie seizes opening stage | Inquirer Sports

Aussie seizes opening stage

Three hurt in finish-line mishap
By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 02:03 AM April 22, 2014

OLONGAPO CITY—Australian rider Eric Timothy Sheppard made his move in the day’s final climb and went on to rule the kick-off stage of the 2014 Le Tour de Filipinas Monday.

The tenacious climber from OCBC Cycling Team punched the air as he soloed it home in four hours, three minutes and 52 seconds in the blistering 160-kilometer ride from Clark Freeport in Pampanga to this city.

Yousif Mohamed Mirza Alhammadi of the United Arab Emirates national team placed second, two minutes and 40 seconds behind Sheppard, after beating Korean Kwon Soon-yeong in a wild sprint that saw the third-placer ramming two photographers and then getting airborne and crashing to the pavement 10 meters beyond the finish line.


Kwon, who slammed his head on the ground, lay motionless for a few minutes. He was rushed to a nearby hospital.


Josh Albelda, a photographer for local news website Rappler, and Alysa Salen of Business Mirror also sustained injuries and were taken to Unihealth-Bay Pointe Hospital and Medical Center.

They were taking shots inside the metal barriers at the finish-line area when Kwon hit them.

Kwon and Albelda underwent CT scans while Salen suffered a fractured clavicle that will require a minor surgery. They are all out of danger, according to Tour officials.

“I just stayed with the (lead) pack in the hills and picked up the pace at the last climb,” said Sheppard, the champion of the 2011 Tour of Indonesia, who attacked in the third climb in Morong, Bataan, and cut loose from the nine-man lead group.

After hurdling the final ascent, the 22-year-old Australian sped away for good along the treacherous downhill stretch entering Subic Freeport, 15 kilometers to the finish.

Roman Van Uden of New Zealand arrived fourth, Singaporean Choon Huat Goh was fifth and Iranian rider Khalil Khorshid placed sixth, 2:40 behind the lap winner, while Australian Brendon Meney and Iranian Alireza Ashgarzadeh finished together, 2:43 back.


Mark Julius Bordeos of 7-Eleven emerged the best Filipino for the day after placing ninth in the stage, 4:10 off Sheppard.

“I hope to keep the overall leader’s jersey after tomorrow’s stage,” said Sheppard.

Tuesday’s relatively flat 175.5 km stage to Cabanatuan City is expected to be dominated by sprinters.

The four-day Le Tour, an advocacy of PhilCycling chair Bert Lina and presented by Air21, ends Thursday in Baguio City.

Stage/Overall Individual Classification:

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1. Sheppard, Eric Timothy (TSI) 4:03:52, 2. Mirza Alhammadi Yousif (UAE) 2:40 behind, 3. Kwon Soonyeong (KSP) same time, 4. Van Uden Roman (CCN) same time, 5. Goh, Choon Huat (TSI) same time, 6. Khorshid Khalil (TSR) same time, 7. Meney, Brendon (SAT) 2:43, 8. Asgharzadeh, Alireza (TSR) same time, 9. Bordeos, Mark Julius (T7E) 4:10, 10. Fitrianto, Hari (CCN) same time. 11. Seo, Joon Yong (KSP) 6:35, 12. Jumabekov, Nazar (PSN) 6:39, 13. Gaineyev, Robert (TTA) same time, 14. Suryadi, Dadi (PCT) 6:52, 15. Pasbankhajeh, Hamed (TSR) same time

TAGS: Cycling, Le Tour, Le Tour de Filipinas

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