ALBAY, Philippines – Aussie cyclist Samuel Hill of Team Nero Bianchi cruised to win Stage 3 of the 10th Le Tour de Filipinas in Legazpi, Albay on Sunday, June 16.
Clocking in at 4 hours, 33 minutes, and 12 seconds, the 23-year-old rider cleared the finish line for his first-ever stage win in a Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)-sanctioned event.
“It couldn’t feel possibly better,” he said after the 183.7-kilometer leg from Bagasbas Beach in Daet, Camarines Norte.
“This is the best feeling ever. Yesterday, it was such a bad day. I was quite sad about what happened that I dropped from the break. So to win today, I can’t really express it any other way. It means so much.”
Also a first for the 5-stage event, two Filipino riders clinched podium finishes nearly a minute after Hill, namely Dominic Perez (4:34:03) of Team 7-Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Roadbike Philippines (7RP) and 2014 Le Tour champion Mark Galedo (4:34:06) of Celeste Cycles-Bianchi Philippines.
Hill, along with Perez and Galedo, broke away very early from the peloton and maintained their gap by at least 2 minutes until the final stretch.
However, he gave himself a boost in the last 10 kilometers amid a clear view of Mayon Volcano in Daraga, leaving the Pinoy duo in the dust.
Hill revealed that the late surge was his plan all along.
“Last 10 kilometers, I knew it was gonna be downhill,” he said. “Because I go downhill pretty well, I thought if I could just get a head start on the downhill I should be aerodynamic and be able to stay away. That was the plan basically as soon as the break started.”
Perez admitted that Hill was just too quick, but he was nevertheless happy for the momentum his finish created for the final two legs.
“Opo, [ganado],” he said. “‘Di pa tapos ang laro eh.” (Yes, I’m pumped. This is not yet over.)
Perez also claimed a clean sweep of the 3 sprint zones at KM 413, 458, and 487. However, he has yet to crack the top 15 in the individual general classification (GC).
That honor so far belongs to his teammate Marcelo Felipe, who cracked the top 10 in the GC after tallying a combined time of 12:36:42 after Stage 3.
The event’s leading Filipino rider so far is just 11 seconds away from 5th-ranked Sandy Nur Hasan of PGN Road Cycling Team and 2:36 away from Dutch rider Jeroen Meijers, who clinched his 3rd-straight overall GC lead for the purple jersey.
Angus Lyons of Australia-based Oliver’s Real Food Racing led the peloton finish at 4th place (4:35:01) while Stage 2 winner Mario Vogt finished on his tail 5 seconds later (4:35:06).
Mod Zamri Saleh (4:35:06) of Malaysia’s Terranganu INC TSG Cycling Team, Jamalidin Novardianto and Aiman Cahyadi (4:35:06) of Indonesia’s PGN Road Cycling Team, Jan Paul Morales (4:35:06) of the Philippine national team, and Natnael Mebrahtom of Team 7RP completed the individual classification top 10 for Stage 3.
Stage 4 will commence on Monday, June 17, from the Legazpi City Hall. The 176-km lap will go through Daraga, Albay before entering Castilla, Sorsogon. The riders will then have to circle around the towns of Gubat and Casiguran before heading back to Legazpi for the final stretch. – Rappler.com