AS Singapore’s Goh Choon Huat, teammate Eric Timothy Sheppard of Australia and local bet Mark Galedo stuck together throughout to keep their places in the top three of the general classification, Indonesia’s Patria Rastra took Stage Three honors on Wednesday in Le Tour de Filipinas 2014.
It was a worry free ride for the top riders in the 146.6-kilometer stage from Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija to Bayombong in Nueva Viscaya, and the gaps remained the same from a day before.
Three intermediate sprints and a Category 3 climb were not enough to break the main pack, and at the end of the day Goh remained three minutes and three seconds ahead of Sheppard and Galedo was still 3:33 off the pace with one stage left in the bikefest presented by Air21.
Rastra came out ahead of a sprint finish, clocking four hours 12 minutes and 25 seconds, while Baasankhuu Myagmarsuren placed second and Dohyoung Kim third.
Lloyd Lucien Reynante also had the same clocking but missed a podium spot and settled for fourth, while Baler Ravina was fifth.
The leading trio came in with the third wave of riders, just 24 seconds behind the stage winner.
One stage remains, a 134-km ride to Baguio City, and Team 7-Eleven is confident Galedo would be able to overhaul the deficit, saying the TSI riders are not expected to dominate the climb a roller-coaster via Kayapa Road and Ambuklao in Benguet.
“We are happy with the results (of the third leg),” said 7-Eleven team leader Rick Rodriguez. “Our target today was for Galedo to close in on the leaders going into the climb to Baguio. Kaya ni Galedo ang ahon.”
Rodriguez said the 28-year-old Galedo, who is bidding to improve on his sixth place finish last year, should be more concerned with other tough climbers particularly the Iranians, Dutch and Kazakh riders in the race supported by Smart, NLEX, SCTEX, TPLEX, BCDA, Petron, Victory Liner and M. Lhuillier.