BAGUIO CITY: Mark Galedo has the legs that could conquer even the most treacherous climbs but on Wednesday, he didn’t have the right focus and lost his chance at keeping the Le Tour de Filipinas crown on Philippine soil.
Thomas Lebas, a 29-year-old competing for the Japan-based Bridgestone Anchor Cycling Team, cunningly rode Stage Four that turned out the most decisive, opting to shadow the dreaded Iranians who were out to satisfy themselves with the final stage honors.
The strategy worked and the Frenchman added the Le Tour de Filipinas to his collection of general classification triumphs after the Tour of Hokkadido (Japan) in 2013 and the Tour de International de Setif (Algeria) last year.
“I rode with the Iranians because they’re the strongest in the peloton today,” said Lebas, who trailed Eric Sheppared, the leader in the first three stages, by four seconds and Galedo, the stalwart from the 7-Eleven Road Bike Philippines squad, by only one second heading into the Baguio City stage.
Lebas made the podium by finishing 42 seconds behind stage winner Mirsamad Pour-seyedigolakhour of Tabriz Pereochemical. The No. 1 Asian rider prevailed in two hours and 54.01 seconds in the 101.70-km stage from Lingayen (Pangasi-nan),leading a 1-2 Iranian windup with Pishgaman Giant’s Hossein Askari (two seconds behind).
Galedo crossed more than two and a half minutes after Lebas to be at 12th in the stage, while Sheppard, who took a spill entering the final 3 kms, was 17th, more than three minutes behind.
Lebas logged a total time over 532.50 kms of 13:40:49, with Galedo settling for runner-up honors in the general classification with a 1:57 deficit. Another Frenchman, Damien Monier also of Bridgestone Anchor, was third 2:19 back.