DAET, Camarines Norte — Spanish rider Fernando Grijalba launched a daring attack at the famed ‘Bitukang Manok’ to win Stage Three of the 8th Le Tour de Filipinas on Monday and move into position to topple overall leader Daniel Whitehouse with one final lap to go.
The Kuwait Carutcho.Es spearhead won a thrilling sprint finish infront of the Camarines Norte capitol here after leading a 10-man group that peeled away from the main peloton and gave chase to the lead pack inside the rolling, winding roads of the Bicol Natural Park bypass.
Grijalba, 26, crossed the finished line in four hours, 14 minutes, and three seconds to move up from fourth overall to second place in the individual general classification entering the fourth and final stage - a 207.35-kilometer race from here to Lucena City.
“I attacked in the last 30 kilometers with the guys trying to get the yellow jersey. I’m pretty fast in little groups, try to stay together, and beat everyone in the sprint,” said the Laguna de Duero, Spain native.
Whitehouse (12:30:54) will still wear the yellow jersey in Stage Four but saw his lead trimmed to just 23 seconds after deciding to stay at the peloton that checked in 1:27 minutes behind the lead pack.
Benjamin Hill of Attaque Team Gusto and Ryu Suzuki of Bridgestone Anchor Cycling Team also sliced the gap from Whitehouse to 24 and 27 seconds, respectively, for third and fourth place.
Salvador Guardiola of Team Ukyo (+37), 2015 Le Tour champion Thomas Lebas of Kinan Cycling Team (+37) and 7-Eleven Sava RBP rider Edgar Nieto (+37) were also part of the first group that crossed the finish line and cut significant seconds off the overall leader's advantage/
Meanwhile, 7-Eleven Sava RBP riders Rustom Lim took seventh place, while Arjay Peralta finished ninth in Stage Three. National rider George Oconer crossed the finish line six seconds later.
The final lap will be capped by a climb in the last 35 kilometers in Atimonan, Quezon, more known as the ‘Tatlong Eme’ where the champion will likely be determined in the race presented by Air21 with Petron and UPS as principal sponsors and Philippine Airlines as airline partner.
Stage 3 Top 10: Fernando Grijalba 4:14:03, Benjamin Hill +0:00, Ryu Suzuki +0:00, Sanghong Park +0:00, Daehyeon Bae +0:00, Thomas Lebas +0:00, Rustom Lim +0:00, Salvador Guardiola +0:00, Arjay Peralta +0:00
Top 10 individual general classification after Stage 3: Daniel Whitehouse 12:30:54, Fernando Grijalba +0:23, Benjamin Hill +0:24, Ryu Suzuki +0:27, Salvador Guardiola +0:37, Thomas Lebas +0:37, Edgar Nieto +0:37, Yoshimitsu Hiratsuka +0:53, Jai Crawford +:2:00, Nathan Eagle :+2:04.