Baguio welcomes Le Tour finale

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014


MORE than 100 local and international road bikers are set to swarm the uphill terrain of the Summer Capital as the 2014 Le Tour de Filipinas closes its deciding leg Thursday at Burnham Park, Lake Drive.

Now on its fifth year, the bike racing event that flagged off April 21st at the Subic Bay in Clark, Pampanga will head to finish off its four-stage trial challenging its competitors in a series of gruel climbs that will determine the "King of the Mountain."

Continental squads from Japan, Iran, Ireland, and South Korea as well as elite clubs from Australia and Kazakhstan are among the 13 foreign squads posing serious threat to Filipino riders in their bid of reigning victory in the four-day race.

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The two local teams bidding to overcome the foreign challenge are 7-Eleven Road Bike Philippines and Philippine Navy-Standard Insurance.

The first stage kicked-off with a 160-kilometer ride en route to Olongapo City, topped by Australian Erick Timothy Sheppard of OCBC Singaporean Continental Team after pouring all his effort in the last 15-kilometer shaking off other dozen riders.

Sheppard clocked 4 hours, 3 minutes and 52 seconds while Yousif Mohammed Mirza Alhammadi of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) national team logged two minutes and 40 seconds behind to finish second in the inaugural stage of the race presented by Air21.

Meanwhile, two Filipinos from the Team 7-Eleven Road Bike Team came in top honors during the second stage Subic Bay to Cabanatuan leg on a Tuesday.
Mark John Lexer Galledo came atop the pack of racers crossing the line with 4 hours, 14 minutes, and 34 seconds, while teammate Chris Joven placed third with 4:15:21 as Sungbaek Park from Korea snatched second place with a 47 seconds difference from Galledo.

Galledo, a two-time Tour winner, together with Jonifer “Baler” Ravina, the 2012 Le Tour champion, spearhead the 7-Eleven squad while three-time winner Santy Barnachea, 2009 champion Joel Calderon and Lloyd Lucien Reynante have joined forces for the Navy-Standard Insurance.

On stage three, Rastra Patria of the Indonesian Pegasus Cycling Team led the breakaway of the 146.60-kilometer Cabanatuan to Bayombong Leg, with Myagmarsuren Baasankhuu from Mongolia’s Atilla Cycling Club and Kim Do Hyoung of Korea’s KSPO Cycling Team crossing for the second and third spots.

This year’s foreign teams include TSR of Iran, Team Ukyo and Aisan Racing of Japan, Polygon Sweet Nice of Ireland, KSPO of South Korea, PT Pegasus of Indonesia, CCN of Brunei Terengganu Cycling of Malaysia and OCBC Cycling of Singapore.

The United Arab Emirates national team has also entered the event along with Atilla Cycling Club of Mongolia, Satalyst Giant Racing Club of Australia and Track Team Astana of Kazakhstan.

Stage 4, Bayombong to Baguio leg, considered the hardest route going to the city in local cycling, is a 132.7-kilometer challenge entering the country’s Summer Capital through the Sierra Madre and Cordillera mountain ranges.

Le Tour de Filipinas is the only Philippine cycling tournament duly sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale, Philippine Cycling Federation, and Asian Cycling Federation.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on April 24, 2014.

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