By Primo P. Agatep
LUCENA CITY, Feb. 21 (PNA) — Aussie rider Jai Crawford of Kinan Cycling Team kept himself in the Top 10 Individual General Classification throughout the first three stages, attacking strategically, but made a big move in Tuesday’s 4th and final stage en route to capture the coveted title in the Le Tour de Filipinas eight edition.
Crawford, 33, of Tasmania, father of two boys, posted a four-day aggregate time of 17 hours 33:07 minutes spanning the natural wonders of Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Quezon provinces which covered a total distance of 726.56 kilometres.
British rider Daniel Whitehouse of Terengganu Cycling Team, three-day holder of the yellow jersey (symbol of overall individual supremacy), who was in the main group towards the fourth stage finish, tried to breakaway to keep in striking distance with the 7-man lead pack, aiming to protect his 23 ticks advantage, however, failed to do so as he landed second overall, clocking 17:33:35, 28 seconds behind eventual winner Crawford.
Spanish rider Fernando Grijalba of Kuwait Cartucho.ES, the third stage winner finished third overall, posting a time of 17:33:58 in the race presented by AIR21 and specially produced by Ube Media Inc.
“It’s very difficult in the KOM (King of the Mountain- route in Atimonan zigzag-Category 2, with elevation of 220 meters). I tried to keep the group intact and I want the guys to help get out the mountains and push towards the flat roads going into the last 10 kilometres,” said Crawford, who led a seven-man breakaway in the first 30 kilometres from the start in Daet, Camarines Norte.
“Two riders in my group tried to attack me going down the mountains but I held on my gear — and the crosswind made it harder, and in the last 3,000 meters I kept rolling for the finish line,” said Crawford, who was in the ninth spot with 23 seconds behind on erstwhile overall individual leader Whitehouse going into the final lap from Daet, Camarines Sur to Lucena City, Quezon at 207.35 kilometers distance.
The Aussie rider, grateful to his teammates for their support and to some other riders and organisers for keeping them safe throughout the race, pocketed the top USD950 for his four-day effort.
German rider Mario Vogt of Attaque Team Gusto accumulated 24 points to win the Best Climber’s Classification while Whitehouse took the Best Young Rider honour with MVP Sports Foundation, Smart Communications and Petron as principal sponsors of the race.
Korean rider Park Sanghong of LX Cycling team, who led the seven-man breakaway in the early going and demonstrated mountain climbing skills, sustained his energy towards the flat terrain and sprinted himself to the finish to win the last stage at five hours and 13 seconds, covering a distance of 207.35 kilometres.
The top three overall team winners in this race supported by Advance Solutions Inc., Cargohaus, Inc., CCN Sports Philippines, Nague Malic Magnawa & Associates Customs Brokers (NMM), Phenom Sportswear and Unionbank are- Team Ukyo (52:47:14), Kinan Cycling Team (52:54:39), and 53:01:34.
Le Tour de Filipinas 2017 Stage 1 (Legazpi to Sorsogon)
Le Tour de Filipinas 2017 Stage 2 (Sorsogon to Naga)
Le Tour de Filipinas Stage 3 (Naga to Daet)
Le Tour de Filipinas Stage 4 (Daet to Lucena)