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    No winner in Le Tour de Filipinas opening stage as heavy traffic forces organizers to stop race

    Feb 18, 2016
    Cyclists had little room to maneuver beside cars and trucks in the opener. Jerome Ascano  

    LUCENA — There was no winner in Stage One of the 7th Le Tour de Filipinas as organizers were forced to stop the race due to road conditions on Thursday in Quezon.

    A stage was halted for the first time in seven editions of Le Tour de Filipinas as cyclists couldn’t continue racing through heavy traffic caused by repairs on a 500-meter stretch of road in Tiaong, Quezon.

    Filipino riders John Mier and Ronnel Hualda of Kopiko Cebu Cycling Team as well as French defending champion Thomas Lebas of Bridgestone Anchor Cycling Team were part of the 31-man lead group before the race was stopped at the 117km mark, about 30 kilometers to the finish line of the Union Cycliste Internationale-sanctioned race presented by Air21.

    “The decision was made to stop the race because it was out of control because of the long line of incoming vehicles tapos rough road pa ’yung right side of the road,” said Continental Commissaire Lorenzo Lomibao Jr.

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    The last inspection of the route was five days ago, and Lomibao said race organizers were not informed road repairs will be done after their visit.

    “It’s very unfortunate dahil after that 500m stretch of rough road, tuluy-tuloy na. It was really uncoordinated. They were caught unaware,” said Lomibao.

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    The final stretch of the first phase of the four-day race was a mere cruise to the Quezon capital for the 73 riders as the race for the general classification title will now begin in Stage Two, a tough and lengthy 204.82-km ride from here to Daet, Camarines Norte.

    The results of the two climbs in the race for King of the Mountain title and one sprint will stay, with Zhandos Bizhigitov of Vino 4-Ever Sko of Kazakhstan, second-placer in the 2015 Black Sea Cycling Tour, ruling both events in the race that has Petron, MVP Sports Foundation, and Smart as principal sponsors.

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    Jay Bop Pagnanawon of Team Cebu Kopiko Philippines was part of a 10-man group that broke away in the descent in Mabitac, Laguna but was caught by the peloton in San Pablo City.

    Stage Two will have a tough climb in the ‘Eme Road’ in Atimonan, Quezon in the race that also has Cargohaus, NMM, UFL, Philippine Airlines, Collab Printing Solutions, Autonation, Orangefix and Phenom as sponsors.

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    Cyclists had little room to maneuver beside cars and trucks in the opener. Jerome Ascano  
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