Whitehouse keeps 23 ticks lead going to Le Tour’s Final Stage; Spanish rider Grijalba wins 3rd Stage

DAET, Camarines Sur -- British rider Daniel Whitehouse of Terengganu Cycling Team (Malaysia) held on to the yellow jersey-symbol of individual leadership, by protecting a precarious 23 seconds lead going into Sunday's decisive and Final Stage of Le Tour De Filipinas.

Whitehouse, posted an aggregate time of 12 hours and 30:54 after three stages, covering a total distance of 521.19 kilometers spanning the provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur, Sorsosgon and Camarines Norte -- marked by the fabled Mayon Volcano, the majestic landforms of Mt Bulusan and Mt Isarog, seasides, green paddies towards here in Daet home of the sweetest pineapples, and experiencing isolated rain showers on their journey for top honors.

"It's the final lap (on Tuesday). The course profile looks so simple but when you start pedaling its complicated, and dynamic," said Whitehouse, also leading the Best Climber's "King of the Mountain" classification of the race sanctioned by the International Cycling Union (ICU) and the kick off race of the Asia Tour season.

"Twenty three seconds is not a safe lead, but a rider trained in mountain climbing will have the edge," emphasized by the 22-year-old Whitehouse boosted by his months of high altitude preparation for the final lap in this race organized by Ube Media Inc. and presented by Air21.

Spanish rider Fernando Grijalba of Kuwait Cartucho.ES was the biggest winner in Monday's Stage 3 and jumped to second spot in the Individual General Classification with 12:31:17.

Grijalba, ranked No. 4 before the start of Stage 3, was with an 11-man break-away group midway, started his attacked in the last 30 kilometers (Bicol National Park-Bitukang Manok), and made stunning sprint in the last hundred meters for his first stage win in many races.

The 26-year old Spanish rider Grijalba, negotiated the relatively flat terrain from Naga City to Daet, Camarines Norte (177.35 kms.) distance, clocking 4:14:03.

"I simply kept my pace -- stay with the main group of riders before the climb in (Bitukang Manok -- located in town of Basud) some 30 kms. away and sprinted my way to the finish," Grijalba said, who was ninth place after the first stage (Legaspi to Sorsogon).

Australian rider Benjamin Hill of Attaque Team Gusto, who checked in second in the third stage 4:14:03), dropped to third spot with 12:31:18, while Japanese Ryu Suzuki of Bridgestone Cycling Team came in fourth with 12:31:21.

Spanish Edgar Nieto representing 7-Eleven of host Philippines in 7th spot, 37 minutes behind in the overall individual standings in the race with the MVP Sports Foundation, Smart Communications and Petron as principal sponsors.

The troika of Pinoy riders Mark Galedo, Arjay Peralta and Goerge Oconer became the stage best riders to lift their 7-Eleven Team in third spot in the Team General Classification with an aggregate time of 37 hours and 52:35 minutes against Japanese Teams -- Team Ukyo (37:36:06) and Kinan Cycling Team (37:43:21).

February 21 -- Stage Four of the race supported by Advance Solutions, Inc., Cargohaus, Inc., CCN Sports Philippines, Nague Malic Magnawa and Associates Customs Brokers (NMM), Phenom Sportswear and Unionbank is the longest at 207.35 kms marked by a Category 2 climb over another enchanting Quezon landmark, Atimonan's Tatlong Eme.

Meanwhile, stage 2 winner Australian rider Sean Whitefield of Oliver Real Food Racing was disqualified for breaking UCI rule. He was spotted getting a support by holding to a vehicle during the race. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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