MANILA, Philippines – The real complexion of the 2012 Le Tour de Filipinas has started to stage up after Monday’s Stage Three from Cauayan City, where Uzbekistan Suren skipper Azamat Turaev served notice of his mountain climbing skills.
Azamat Turaev of Uzbekistan Suren Team raises his hands after winning the 2012 Le Tour de Filipinas 3rd Leg, from Cauayan City, Isabela to Bayumbong, Nueva Vizcaya. Photo by Nonoy Lacza.
Turaev ruled the stage that was highlighted by a Category 1 King of the Mountain Summit. He clocked in at 2 hours, 23 minutes and 36 seconds over a distance of 102.5-km.
The 19-year-old Turaev was vocal about his intention to snatch this year’s crown, saying, “The steeper, the better.”
“Tomorrow (Stage Four) is our race. We ride better in the mountains,” added Uzbekistan Suren team manager Mostafa Chaichi.
The fourth stage is bound to punish the 74 surviving cyclists with two Hors (highest) category climbs and a dizzying downhill finish to Burnham Park.
Turaev progressed from eighth to fifth in the individual general classification and has developed as a potential threat to the yellow jersey, which German rider Timo Scholz of CCN Cycling Team will be wearing for the second straight day.
“I didn’t expect to keep the yellow (jersey). Honestly, I’m not in good shape to defend it,” said Scholz, the oldest rider in the tour at 39 years old.
“We’ll see what happens tomorrow,” he added.
Scholz snatched the leader’s jersey from Mail and More’s Oscar Rendole, who on Saturday became the first Filipino to win a stage in a UCI race. Go21’s Arnel Quirimit made it back-to-back for the Philippines when he won Sunday’s second stage.
Scholz was 18th on Monday, crossing the finish line 21 seconds after Turaev. He was with a big group that included contenders Alexander Malone of the Australian team Plan B, Singapore OCBC’s Loh Sea Keong and Rendole.
Malone remained at second overall, 26 seconds behind Scholz. Loh (25 seconds) and Rendole (1:06) kept their third and fourth positions in the general classification, while Dutch Global’s Koos Jeroen Kers dropped to sixth from fifth (1:46).
Rounding out the top 10 were Rudy Roque of LPGMA-American Vinyl at seventh (1:52 behind), Bikenz-PureBlack’s James Williamson at eighth (1:52 behind), Filipino Baler Ravena of Go21 at ninth (2:11) and Indonesian Rastra Patria of Colossi at 10th place (2:13).
In the overall team classification, Mail and More remained in the lead with a 14-second lead over LPGMA-American Vinyl and 1:05 over Go21.
Uzbekistan Suren also made progress by running third, 1:20 behind Mail and More, followed by CCN Cycling Team (1:44), Dutch Global (2:54), PureBlack (4:45), Kia (6:44), Aisan Racing Team (6:53) and Terranganu Racing Team (7:32).
Smart-PhilCycling was 11th, followed by OCBC Singapore, Plan B, Colossi Mich, Action Cycling Team and Yogyakarta.