LUCENA — Organizers and competitors in Le Tour de Filipinas were left frustrated after the opening stage was neutralized towards the end, though even top riders who were in position to win believe it was a good call.
Chief commissaire Peter Tomlinson decided to stop Stage One with still 30 kilometers to race due to heavy traffic on a short stretch of road under repair in a Tiaong, Quezon.
Donna Lina, president of the organizing Ube Media, was disappointed that the race ended the way it did, more so since there were four inspections on the course, including two this month.
“We considered this (course) critical dahil progressive ’yung mga towns na daanan that is why we made inspections.
“Of course, we cannot compromise everybody’s safety. That’s always No. 1. Nasa probinsya na nga tayo, trapik pa rin,” Lina said.
Defending champion Thomas Lebas and Filipino rider John Mier were also disappointed with the way the race ended since they were part of the 31-man lead group prior to the stoppage.
Four of Lebas’ teammates at Bridgestone Anchor Cycling Team were part of the lead pack, in good position for podium finishes and the lead in the general and team classification.
“It was very dangerous with the traffic. There were too many cars, so I think it’s also a good decision. For my team though, it’s not good because we had four riders in the breakaway. It was a good situation for us but it’s the race,” said Lebas.
Mier and his team captain Ronnel Hualda of Team Cebu Kopiko were also part of the first group.
“Medyo nasayangan po kami. Dalawa sana kaming may remate,” said Mier.
Mier said it will now be a free-for-all for Stage Two on Friday since the race has practically become a three-stage event.
“Banatan na naman siguro kasi wala pang overall. Agawan sa puwestuhan. Kung sino na lang mapasama sa amin,” said Mier.
Lebas shares the sentiment.
“It’s very hot and it’s a long stage so maybe it’s very important. We’ll try to send riders in the breakaway again and hope the race will not be neutralized,” said the Frenchman rider.
Lina is confident there will be no similar incidents again in the final three stages.
“The far away from Manila, the lesser the traffic,” said Lina.