LUCENA CITY — Edgar Nieto turned out to be the best home bet in Le Tour de Filipinas, and the Spanish rider was heartbroken as he fell just short of his bid to deliver for his adopted country.
Nieto is married to a Filipina, with whom he has a bay boy, and has been a resident of Pangasinan for the past four years. Naturally, he wanted to keep the Le Tour title home.
He had a solid chance with just a 37-second deficit when the final stage was flagged off and boosted his bid when he joined a seven-man attack that got well ahead of three-day leader Daniel Whitehouse.
Nieto did not have enough, however, and dropped out of the lead group 10 kilometers before the finish in this southern city.
He wound up two minutes and 28 seconds behind in the stage, placing sixth in the general classification, just a little over a minute off the pace.
“I was in a crisis. I was in the last 10 kilometers. I was totally empty. I tried to follow. I tried to survive. But I was totally empty,” he added.
Nieto's fading finish allowed Jai Crawford, in ninth spot and two minutes behind entering Stage Four, to take the top spot.
“I had the race in my hand and it escaped,” said Nieto.
Since signing with 7-Eleven four years ago, Nieto has been living in Dagupan and spends almost the entire year in the Philippines and naturally, wanted to deliver for his adopted country, aside from wanting to make a mark for himself in the cycling world.
Le Tour de Filipinas is the only UCI-sanctioned race in the Philippines, and is part of the Asia Tour.
"It's my first home," said Nieto. "My wife is a Filipina and my baby is a Filipino. I like the Philippines. I live here and I stay here. I have my own house and I live here 11 months a year. I only live in Spain for a month."
"Nothing more I can say. I did my 100 percent to win the race for my team and for the Philippines. But sometimes, you win some, you lose some.
"Today was supposed to be my best day in my life but it wasn't," said Nieto.