Road works in Quezon halt Le Tour Stage 1
LUCENA CITY—Stalled by traffic, the opening stage of the 2016 Le Tour de Filipinas failed to reach its destination Thursday after organizers decided to stop the race near the finish.
A large wave of riders pedalled furiously on a busy stretch of Tiaong town, 31 kilometers from the finish line, only to find themselves trapped in the horrendous snarl that abruptly ended their punishing 117-kilometer trip from hilly Antipolo City.
Chief commissaire Peter Tomlinson of Australia declared the race stoppage as the traffic went out of control due to a half-kilometer distance of road repairs on the crowded two-way street.
According to Commissaire 3 Jun Lomibao, the route was checked four times prior to the race with the final survey done five days ago.
“It was very unfortunate that we have to stop the race after 117 kilometers. It was really uncoordinated, we’re caught unawares,” said Donna Lina, president of race organizer Ube Media Inc.
Without a winner in the stage, the general classification race of the four-day international bikathon presented by Air21 begins Saturday in Stage 2—a 204-km ride from this provincial capital to Daet, Camarines Norte.
The biggest challenge of the lap is a two-kilometer stretch of steep hairpin climbs and descents in Atimonan.
Zhandos Bizhigitov of Kazakhstan-based Vino 4-Ever SKO topped the king of the mountain in Mabitac and earned the most points in the intermediate sprint during the stage.
The 25-year-old Bizhigitov, a second placer in the GC of Bulgaria’s Black Sea Cycling Tour, will wear both the green (sprint) and polka dot (KOM) jerseys today.
Jay Bop Pagnanawon of Cebu Kopiko cut loose from the peloton early together with Bizhigitov, Dadi Suryadi, Damien Monier and five other foreign riders on the downhill section of Mabitac and controlled the pace for long stretches.
Defending champion Thomas Lebas of France, national team riders George Oconer and Mark Bonzo, 7Eleven Sava Road Bike’s Marcelo Felipe, James Ewart and Cebu’s Ronnel Hualda and John Mier, among others, finally caught up with the lead pack halfway through the stage before the booby trap caught the large group off-guard in Tiaong.
Korean Yeon Je Sung abandoned the race and rode the sag wagon after he crashed on a treacherous downhill in Tanay, Rizal, reducing the field to 73 riders.
The Tour covering 691 kilometers and backed by principal sponsors Petron MVP Sports Foundation and Smart ends Sunday.
Cargohaus, NMM, UFL, Philippine Airlines, Collab Printing Solutions, Autonation, Orangefix and Phenom also supported the race that attracted 12 foreign teams and three local squads.
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