Aussie leads but top local bet Mark Galedo still wary of Iranian riders in Le Tour de Filipinas
Mark Galedo says he will definitely keep an eye on Eric Sheppard, but believes former champions Ghader Mizbani and Rahim Emami and other Iranian riders are still the top riders to watch. Jerome Ascano

BALANGA, Bataan — An Australian in Eric Sheppard may have ruled Stage One of the 2015 Le Tour de Filipinas, but Filipino defending champion Mark Galedo is more wary of top Iranian riders who have yet to make their presence felt.

Although Iranians Hossein Askrai of Pishgaman Giant Team and Tabriz Petrochemical Team’s Mehdi Sohrabi finished fifth and sixth — both three minutes and 16 seconds behind Sheppard’s 3:16:13 time, former champions Ghader Mizbani (2013) and Rahim Emami (2011) finished far from the leaders, finishing 34th and 44th, respectively.

Asia’s No. 1 in Mirsamad Poorseyediholakhour is likewise out of the Top 10 at 24th.

[See Eric Sheppard outsprints Mark Galedo to take Stage One honors in 2015 Le Tour de Filipinas

But Galedo, who finished second behind Sheppard with an identical time, remains wary of the Iranians, believing they will start to gain ground in Stage Two on Monday as the four-stage race heads to Iba, Zambales.

“Mas tinitingnan namin yung mga Iranian legend sa likod,” he said. “Tingin ko mararamdaman na natin ang mga galaw niyan sa Stage Two.

For the top Filipino bet from Caloocan, the important thing is to keep within striking distance of Sheppard.

“Susundan lang natin yung leading rider, aabangan natin yung mga threat na hindi pa kumikilos,” the 29-year-old Galedo said.

“Hindi pa rin tayo nawawalan ng (awareness) na kikilos at kikilos yung mga mas malalakas ng rider sa likuran.”

Galedo definitely knows what he’s talking about, having finished 31st in the opening stage last year before steadily climbing his way to the top.

Still, his start is way better than last year’s and he likes where he’s at right now.

“Magandang bonus ito sa akin na maaga ako nakapunta sa harapan. Mas maganda na rin na nasa likod lang tayo muna ngayon umpisa so hindi gaanong pressure.”

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“Pabor pa sa atin,” he added.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos