Kazakh rider Zemlyakov rules 2016 Le Tour de Filipinas
LEGAZPI CITY—Thrilled at the thought of racing in the Tour de France, Oleg Zemlyakov just made a strong case for himself by winning the Philippines’ most prestigious race.
Zemlyakov fended off his fiercest rivals and captured the 2016 Le Tour de Filipinas general classification title after Australian Timothy Guy of Attaque Team Gusto seized Sunday’s final stage—a 160.20-kilometer trip on the fringes of the famed Mayon Volcano.
“It feels good,” said the 22-year-old from Petropavl, Kazakhstan after receiving the trophy during the awarding ceremony led by Albay governor Joey Salceda and Legazpi mayor Noel Rosal.
Zemlyakov, riding for Vino 4Ever SKO, nearly lost his grip on the yellow jersey when Rustom Lim of the Philippine national team made a daring solo breakaway where the Filipino rider even led by over a minute in the town of Malilipot in the 89-km mark.
Rolling at high speed, Zemlyakov and fellow Kazakh Yevgeniy Gidich gave chase and was able to foil the attack after they reeled in Lim together with 35 other riders, some 20 kms to the finish.
“In the end, we’re able to control the race and maintain the gap,” said Vino team manager Sergey Danniker. “As for Oleg, he’s being considered to join Team Astana in the Tour de France next year and his performance here will definitely help.”
Guy cut loose from the speeding lead pack and reach the finish line in three hours, 52 minutes and 50 seconds after going solo in the final two kilometers.
Cameron Bayly, Guy’s teammate, placed second and Jang Sun Jae of LX-IIBS Cycling finished third, each of them nine second behind the lap winner.
Overall, Zemlyakov led teammate Gidich by 19 seconds and was 21 seconds faster than Batmunkh Maral-Erdene of Terrenganu Cycling after the 691-km multistage race presented by Air21.
Australian Jesse James Ewart of 7Eleven Sava Road Bike Philippines placed fourth, 22 seconds behind, followed by his teammate Marcelo Felipe (1:22), Ryu Suzuki of Bridgestone Anchor Cycling (1:25), Salvador Guardiola Tora of Team Ukyo (same time), Kenji Itami of Kinan Cycling (same time) and Lim (2:04).
The 19-year-old Gidich was awarded best young rider while Vino 4Ever SKO won the team overall accolade.
Cebu Kopiko’s Ronnel Hualda was crowned king of the mountain after conquering the two KOM challenges of the day and compiling a total of 19 points. Dominating the sprint side event was Stage 3 winner Wesley Sulzberger of Kinan Cycling.