Confident Aussie rules 3rd stage | Inquirer Sports
LE TOUR DE FILIPINAS

Confident Aussie rules 3rd stage

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 05:32 PM February 20, 2016

Participants of the 2016 Le Tour De Filipinas passby the famous Mayon Volcano in Brgy.Libod, Camalig, Albay during the stage 3 race Daet-Legazpi leg. A 185.79 kilometer race won by Wesley Sulzberger(middle white jersey) from Australia of the Japan Kinan Cycling team.Photo by: NONIE REYES

Participants of the 2016 Le Tour De Filipinas passby the famous Mayon Volcano in Brgy.Libod, Camalig, Albay during the stage 3 race Daet-Legazpi leg. A 185.79 kilometer race won by Wesley Sulzberger(middle white jersey) from Australia of the Japan Kinan Cycling team.Photo by: NONIE REYES

A 185.79 kilometer race won by fist closed Wesley Sulzberger from Australia of the Japan Kinan Cycling team, during the 2016 Le Tour De Filipinas Stage 3 race from Daet to Legazpi City, Albay Province. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/ NONIE REYES

A 185.79 kilometer race won by fist closed Wesley Sulzberger from Australia of the Japan Kinan Cycling team, during the 2016 Le Tour De Filipinas Stage 3 race from Daet to Legazpi City, Albay Province. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/ NONIE REYES

LEGAZPI CITY—When the day began, Australian Wesley Sulzberger already knew his legs would carry him to a stage victory in the 2016 Le Tour de Filipinas.

The all-rounder from Kinan Cycling Team burst out from a huge pack early and led a frenetic sprint in the last 300 meters to win the penultimate stage of local cycling’s most prestigious race.

“I really felt good this morning and knew I have the best legs in the race,” said Sulzberger, a 29-year-old veteran of European races from Tasmania. “I easily breached the gap on every attack.”

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Sulzberger crossed the line in four hours, 27 minutes and 55 seconds, just two seconds ahead of fellow Aussie Guy Kalma of Attaque Team Gusto and 20 seconds faster than third-placer Baler Ravina of 7Eleven Sava Road Bike Philippines after the 165.79-kilometer trip from Daet, Camarines Norte.

Protecting the yellow jersey, Stage 2 winner Oleg Zemlyakov of Vino 4Ever SKO kept the overall lead after nestling safely in the peloton along with the other contenders.

“Our target was to control the race and prevent the challengers from gaining on us. We achieved both today,” said Vino team manager Sergey Danniker.

The Kazakhstan-based squad has a big supporter in 2012 London Olympic road race champion Alexander Vinokourov, the founder of Team Astana in the Tour de France. Danniker hinted that Zemlyakov, 22, might join Astana this year in the Tour de France.

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The top overall standings didn’t change as Zemlyakov maintained a 19-second edge over teammate Yevgeniy Gidich.

Australian Jesse James Ewart of 7Eleven Sava Road Bike remained third, 22 seconds behind, and Maral-Erdene Batmunkh of Terrenganu Cycling Team lay fourth, 23 seconds back.

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With the race still wide open, Zemlyakov should protect the slim lead in today’s 160.20-km finale—on a route surrounding the majestic Mayon Volcano and made difficult by a pair of mid-level climbs—to capture the title of the four-day race presented by Air21 and organized by Ube Media Inc.

Japanese Ryu Suzuki and Kenji Itami are running fifth and sixth while Marcelo Felipe of 7Eleven and Salvador Tora Guardiola of Team Ukyo placed seventh and eighth overall, each of them 1:25 slower than Zemlyakov.

Other sponsors of the UCI-sanctioned race are Petron, MVP Sports Foundation, Smart, Cargohaus, Phenom, Orangefix, UFL, NMM, Philippine Airlines, Collab Printing Solutions and Autonation.

Sulzberger and Ravina were in the company of defending champion Thomas Lebas of France along with three other riders when they jumped out early in the stage from Basud, Camarines Norte, shortly after flag off.

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The title-retention drive of Lebas took a bad turn after his tire got punctured in the town of Bula at the 112-km mark, shrinking the lead group of Sulzberger and Ravina to five.

TAGS: Cycling, Le Tour de Filipinas, Sports

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