SORSOGON City — British rider Daniel Whitehouse of Terenngganu Cycling Team of Malaysia demonstrated his cycling prowess with finesse- both in sprint and mountain climbing, ruled Saturday’s first stage of Le Tour de Filipinas.
Whitehouse, 22, of Manchester, United Kingdom, clocked three hours 56.03 minutes in the 164.50 kilometer distance which started at the Seawall boulevard along the scenic Albay Gulf in Legaspi City to Sorsogon City. New Zealand-based Briton rider , who is in his second year in Le Tour, again presented by AIR21 and specially produced by UBE Media Inc. pocketed USD 810 for topping Stage 1 capped by topping the day’s mountain and sprint.
”The climb in Mt Bulusan (64 kilometers to the finish line) gave me the opportunity to break-away. And I thanked my teammates for helping me win the race,”the jubilant Whitehouse said, minutes after crossing the finish line cheered by hundred Bicolano cycling fans led by Sorsogon governor, Bobet Lee Rodriguez himself.
Whitehouse, 2016 titlist in the Le Flores cycling competition held in Indonesia,was in a three-man group before the climb in Bulusan Volcano National Park, the first “King of the Mountain” Category 1 KOM with an elevation of 300 meters above sea level.
A few meters before finishing the almost six-kilometer snaking KOM stretch, Whitehouse overtook Mario Vogt of Attaque Team Gusto,from there, the Briton rider coasted to the finish line by his lonesome in the race marked by isolated rainshowers along the route passing the picturesque coastal towns of Albay and Sorsogon.
Benjamin Hill of Attaque Team Gusto and Ryu Suzuki of Bridgestone Anchor, finished second and third place, respectively,with MVP Sports Foundation, Smart Communications and Petron as principal sponsors of this premiere race.
Hill who clocked 3:58:00 and Suzuki, who posted 3:58:03,for their efforts received USD 400 and 200 US-dollar, respectively. Actually, Hill and Suzuki and seven other riders crossed the finish line with identical clockings of 3:58:07.
Local riders for their part struggled with 7-Eleven team member Rusto Lim, suffered a mechanical problem, just 20 kilometers from the start and team’s support vehicle was not around in due time while teammate Arjay Peralta was highly-guarded in the peloton (main group of riders).As a result, we failed to execute our battle plan said Mark Galedo, the team skipper.
“On Sunday, I think we have an advantage for it is another technical race,” Galedo said, who posted the day’s Best Filipino rider with 4:05:25, followed by Peralta 4:06:35 and Rustom Lim 4:14:40.
Team Ukyo topped the Team General Classification with 11 hours 54:21 followed by Kinan Cycling Team 12:0142 and 7-Eleven RBP with 14:10:10.
Stage Two on Feb. 19 of the race that has Philippine Airlines as official airlines partner will again be a technical ride from Sorsogon to Naga City—all of 177.35 kms but marked by the second King of the Mountain point on a deceptive climb on Tiwi’s hilly coastal road entering Camarines Sur via Sagnay town.
With the MVP Sports Foundation, Smart Communications and Petron as principal sponsors of the race also ran by race officials of the PhilCycling led by Tagaytay City Rep. Abraham Tolentino, the Le Tour will embark on a relatively flat 177.35 kms Stage Three on February 20 from Naga City to Daet, Camarines Norte. And for the first time in Philippine Tour history, Tigaon town plays a major role as a turning point for the race which carries the theme for 2017 “Eight’s Amazing.” Primo Agatep/PNA-northboundasia.com