Baguio climb to decide Le Tour de Filipinas
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—After surviving yesterday’s punishing climbs, Singaporean Goh Choon Huat now has to conquer the tougher, bigger mountains ahead Thursday to rule the 2014 Le Tour de Filipinas.
Goh, who rides for OCBC Cycling Team, retained the overall lead after Stage 3 of the four-day race won by Indonesian sprinter Patria Rastra of Pegasus Cycling Team and needs only to keep pace with his main rivals to claim the crown.
With one stage left, Goh will have to watch for Mark Galedo of 7-Eleven Road Bike Philippines and several other worthy contenders when the field tackles the uphill route to Baguio City.
“It’s a difficult course. I just have to try my best to keep the yellow jersey,” said Goh, who placed out of the top 10 in the same Bayombong to Baguio finale via the Sierra Madre and Cordillera mountains last year.
Rastra, 24, sprinted away from the lead pack in the last 200 meters to win the 146.6-kilometer ride from Cabanatuan City to this town near the foothills of the Sierra Madre.
He crossed the line in four hours, 12 minutes and 25 seconds, beating second-placer Mongolian Baasankhuu Myagmarsuren and Korean Dohyoung Kim by a bike’s length.
Goh and his chief challengers—teammate Eric Timothy Sheppard and Galedo—all finished in the main pack which arrived 24 seconds behind the lap winner, who remained 17 minutes 12 seconds off the holder of the yellow jersey.
Overall, Goh led Sheppard by 3:03, Galedo by 3:33 and the fourth-running Nazar Jumabekov of Kazakhstan by 3:58.
Indonesian Dadi Suryadi was fifth, 4:12 back, followed by John Ebsen of Denmark, Iranian Hossein Alizadeh, and Japanese Yoshimitsu Hiratsuka, who all trailed by 4:21.
“They (Goh and Sheppard) aren’t climbers. I have to watch out for Ebsen, Jumabekov and Alizadeh going to Baguio,” said Galedo, a two-time Tour champion who won Stage 2 to vault into contention.
Thursday’s 134-km trek going to the City of Pines has three king of the mountain challenges with the last ascent on the fringes of Ambuklao Dam considered the most punishing in local cycling.
In the team race, 7-Eleven Road Bike Philippines moved up to second from third, 5:27 behind pacesetter Singapore-based OCBC.
Seven riders jumped out to an early lead right after the race was restarted in Sto. Domingo town.
Heavy traffic in Talavera, Nueva Ecija forced organizers to restart the race, according to commissaire 2 Carlos Gredonia.
Among those in the lead pack were Rastra and Filipino riders Baler Ravina and Lloyd Reynante.
They held on to the lead through the first KOM at Dalton Pass and across the provincial border before sprinting home to the finish.
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