Team title, special awards as hotly contested in Le Tour

CAUAYAN, Isabela — Le Tour Filipinas is halfway through and with the overall individual race yet to get hot, focus remains on team play and the battle for special awards.

Tabriz Petrochem of Iran has managed to stay on top of the standings for two stages, followed by Taiwan-based CCN and Australian team City of Perth.

19-year-old City of Perth Luke Parker proved his worth on the road with a huge win in a bunch sprint finish in Stage Two on Sunday, a long energy-sapping ride from Aparri to this city, and explained that these tough racing conditions need proper preparations and team strategy, hinting that audacious solo moves may not yield very good results.

“My team did an amazing job keeping me comfortable. They always had fresh bottles ready for me, and they set me up really well for the win,” said Parker, who drafted on his teammates until the final 200 meters when he vaulted to the front for a win by a bike length from Filipino rider Jan Paul Morales.

Now the young sprinter is set to provide the help as teammate Tom Hamilton tries to keep the polka dot jersey and take more points in the battle for the King of the Mountain title as Le Tour moves from this city to Bayombong in Nueva Vizcaya for Stage Three.

The first and only climb of the day is set at 68.3 kilometers from the start line, and Parker said his job on Monday will be to help bring Hamilton at the foot of the climb as fresh as he can be.

“We’ll try to push and help give him a chance to keep the lead in the KOM,” Parker said. Hamilton has three points against two by Hossein Akari of Iran’s Tabriz

For last year’s overall individual champion Baler Ravina, who enters Stage Three seven minutes off the lead in the individual race , focus may turn into the team classification. His 7-Eleven-Roadbike squad is the best local team so far, but is fourth overall behind three foreign squads.

Ravina said aside from trying to trim his deficit in the individual classification, his team felt it needed to respond to attacks on Stage Two because part of the early break were two rival local riders.

“Sila-sila (foreign squads) rin naman ang nagbabantayan, hindi natin masisiguro ang mangyayari. Maaring may makalusot na iba,” said Ravina.

Daniel Asto of Philippine Navy Standard Insurance, third in the local team standings, was joined in the early break by Cris Joven of American Vinyl, last year’s team champion.


Asto won the first intermediate sprint before Joven claimed the maximum points in the next four. Joven has 14 points, second in the classification behind Stage One winner Lee Ki Suk  (19), while Asto is third with 11 points. Parker is fourth with 10.

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