Peerless Mizbani rules Baguio stage to wrap up Le Tour de Pilipinas title
Ghader Mizbani, left, and Tabriz Petrochemical teammate Amir Kolahdoz Hagh raise their hands as they cross the finish line together at the end of Le Tour's Baguio stage.

BAGUIO CITY — Two-time UCI Asia Tour No. 1 Ghader Mizbani showed he was a cut above the rest on a route that he declared as the best and toughest he has ever ridden, ruling the final stage to win the individual overall crown and lead Tabriz Petrochem to the team title on Tuesday in Le Tour de Filipinas.

In a race that saw the lone remaining Filipino hope suffer a crash that dashed his title chances, and the Korean three-day yellow jersey holder fall off a cliff and abandon the race, Mizbani and the formidable Iranian squad made it all look easy in asserting their supremacy of the four-stage summer spectacle.

Iranian continental team Tabriz Petrochem was simply peerless on the rollercoaster 132.7-kilometer ride on the dreaded climb via Kayapa Road to the summer capital while the 38-year-old Mizbani proved he still has what it takes to dominate after struggling last season with back problems.

“I have been riding for maybe 20 years, and I think in Asia this maybe the best (course). Very technical, very challenging, very beautiful course,” Mizbani said of the daunting climb to this summer destination.

Amir Kolahdoz Hagh made it a 1-2 finish for Tabriz in the stage and in the general overall classification. The duo rode side by side as they crossed the finish line at Burnham Park in four hours, 30 minutes, and eight seconds.

Mizbani, in only his second race after seeing action in the Tour de Langkawi, had an overall time of 16:38:37 after four stages and 615.7 kilometers, while Hagh was 37 seconds behind.   

Dutch rider Thomas Rabou of OCBC Singapore continental team made an audacious solo move early to take the maximum points in the day’s three climbs to win the King of the Mountain title and finish third in the stage, 20 seconds off the winner.

Denmark’s John Ebsen, riding for Azerbaijan’s Synergy Baku Cycling Project, crossed the finish line over three minutes later to claim third place in the overall individual race, 6:56 behind Mizbani.

Entering the day just 18 seconds off the pace, Mizbani, UCI Asian overall champion in the 2005-06 and 2008-09 seasons, rode a calculated race, with his teammates following the game plan to the letter.

Ebsen entered the day just a little under four minutes behind in the standings and had a good chance to steal the limelight, but the Hagh-Mizbani duo stuck with him on the steep climbs and high-speed descents.


Rabou was far below the overall standings and the Iranians did not react when he launched an attack.  But riding solo took its toll on him and he was passed by the Tabriz duo with 15 kilometers to go.

“Me and the other guys made sure we have the yellow jersey, and then we tried to win the stage,” Mizbani added.

Mark Galedo of 7-Eleven-Roadbike looked determined to overhaul his overall deficit of seven minutes, but he hit a road barrier on the descent after the second KOM marker with 70 kilometers to go and suffered a bruised hip and left knee.

He bravely got back on the bike and soldiered on, and emerged as the best-placed Filipino rider in seventh place overall, 15 minutes and 32 behind in the race presented by Air21 in partnership with San Miguel Corp. and Smart.

Tabriz Petrochem clocked a total of 50:08:49, while 7-Eleven-Roadbike was second (42 minutes and 36 seconds behind) and CCN of Taiwan was third (43:33 behind) in the event sponsored by Standard Insurance, Jinbei, Victory Liner, San Mig Coffee, Magnolia Purewater, Red Media, Foton, Maynilad, Kia, Sign Media, Integrated Waste Management Inc., Eurotel, American Vinyl, LBC and 7-Eleven.

Lee Ki Suk, who won Stage One and wore the yellow jersey for three days, overshot a sharp right turn at the 92.5-km mark and fell off a cliff, avoiding major injuries only because his fall was broken by bushes and vines.   

The Korean sprinter was 7:45 behind the leader when he fell. He was pulled out by a group led by Moto Commissaire Marvin Adrid, who said Lee suffered a hand injury.

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