2012 Le Tour de Filipinas | Stage 4: Bayombong Baguio City |

On reflection, the lavish attention heaped upon the final Tour de Filipinas stage pre-race by local Filipino media was justified. The 4,000 vertical metres of climbing punished all 73 starters but, tellingly, of the 19 riders that dropped out or finished outside the time limit, only one was local.

With an estimated finishing time of six hours, today s mountainous 133.83 kilometer stage was scheduled to begin at 07:30 this morning. After passing through the lengthy (8km) neutral zone, the race proper got underway at 08:15 local time. Ahead of the bunch stood three KOM summits, at 48.8km, 59km and 115.7km respectively; all exceeded 1,400 metres elevation.

Earlier in the morning (06:30), second-placed Alex Malone (Plan B Racing) told Cycling iQ he was confident that his team had the necessary firepower including 2010 Tour de Langkawi King of the Mountain, Peter MacDonald to support him to a top result; though, almost prophetically, he warned of the bantam-weight local riders known for launching savage attacks in their home race. Whilst Malone had racked up plenty of base miles prior to Tour de Filipinas and recent race miles in the UCI2.2 Tour of Thailand early this month ber climbing days were rare. I can do a training ride of 2,000-2,500 metres total elevation in Sydney, but nothing like this, stated Malone, frankly.

Though Tour de Filipinas sponsor Smart Communications had recently upgraded its mobile network in the finishing city of Baguio, this did not extend to the surrounding hills. Only 40 kilometres into the stage, the one person within the convoy that was pushing out information via Twitter (Aisan Racing Team co-ordinator, Nina Watarai) had her signal cut short. Not for the first time this week, the silence was deafening. [Cycling iQ placed a dozen calls to various LTdF personnel during the next 90 minutes, but all failed. Finally, race director Gary Cayton was reached at the bottom of the final KOM, 40 kilometers from the finish; Cayton was unable to supply an update, other than to say six riders were ahead with an unknown time gap].

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It was only later revealed that Filipino riders Baler Ravina (GO21) and Joel Calderon (Mail and More) had become virtual leaders somewhere on the face of the third KOM, having left yellow jersey Timo Scholz (CCN Cycling Team) and third-placed starter Sea Keong Loh (OCBC Singapore Cycling Team) for dust. Unfortunately for Plan B Racing, Malone was well out of contention by this stage, bleeding precious seconds by the kilometer.

Having begun the stage 3:45 and 2:11 (respectively) behind Scholz, Calderon and Ravina passed under the finishing banner almost side by side with Calderon claiming the stage victory and, in the process, secured their places on the overall podium. Excellent climbing form saw Loh finish 1:50 later in third place.

[Note: unfortunately, a lack of available communication modes after the stage meant Nick Squillari could not be reached for his regular installment of bunch insight from Tour de Filipinas. This post will be updated if Nick can be contacted before he takes a well-earned break. A huge thank you to Nick and Alex for taking time out of their schedules, often at very early/late times, to speak with Cycling iQ. Additional thanks to Gary Cayton and Kelvin Inawat from the organizing committee for fielding my constant phone calls.]

Stage winner Joel Calderon (Mail and More) and overall winner Baler Ravina (GO21) finish stage four. Image: Jhunelle Sardido & Roy Maala / UBE Media

Stage winner Joel Calderon. Image: Jhunelle Sardido & Roy Maala / UBE Media

Yellow jersey winner Baler Ravina Image: Jhunelle Sardido & Roy Maala / UBE Media

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WITHDRAWALS 1. Takeaki Ayabe (Aisan Racing Team) DNF 2. Rob Gitelis (CCN Cycling Team) DNF 3. Fito Bakdo Prilanji (CCN Cycling Team) Finished outside time limit 4. Choon Huat Goh (OCBC Singapore Cycling Team) Finished outside time limit 5. Nick Squillari (OCBC Singapore Cycling Team) DNF 6. Modh Hariff Salleh (Terengganu Cycling Team) DNF 7. Mohd Zamri Salleh (Terengganu Cycling Team) DNF 8. Shih Hsin Hsiao (Action Cycling Team) Finished outside time limit 9. Hamid Shirisisan (Uzbekistan Suren Team) Finished outside time limit 10. Louis Crosby (PureBlack Racing) DNF 11. Alexander Smyth (Plan B Racing) Finished outside time limit 12. Peter MacDonald (Plan B Racing) DNF 13. Tiji van der Steeg (Dutch Global Team) DNF 14. Roel De Vries (Dutch Global Team) Finished outside time limit 15. Didit Purwanto (Yogyakarta) DNF 16. Samai (Yogyakarta) DNF 17. Mamur Matnur (Colossi Miche) DNF 18. Bayu Satrio (Colossi Miche) Finished outside time limit

19. Ronald Gorantes (Smart Team) Finished outside time limit

POINTS CLASSIFICATION TOP 5 1. Azamat Turaev (Uzbekistan Suren Team) 15pts 2. Arnel Quirimt (GO21) 14pts 3. Timo Scholz (CCN Cycling Team) 14pts 4. Joel Calderon (Mail and More) 13pts

5. Hamid Shirisisan (Uzbekistan Suren Team) 12pts

1. Chun Kai Feng (Action Cycling Team) 26pts 2. Baler Ravina (GO21) 20pts 3. Joel Calderon (Mail and More) 14pts 4. Mohammad Pouri Gharehbaghi (Uzbekistan Suren Team) 9pts

5. Azamat Turaev (Uzbekistan Suren Team) 9pts

1. Ristom Lim (American Vinyl LPGMA) 13:28:34
2. James Williamson (PureBlack Racing) 13:33:46
3. Rudy Roque (American Vinyl LPGMA) 13:34:17 4. Rastra Patria (Colossi Miche) 13:39:17

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5. Chun Liang Pan (Action Cycling Team) 13:50:09

1. American Vinyl LPGMA (Philippines) 2. Mail and More (Philippines) 3. GO21 (Philippines) 4. Smart Team (Philippines) 5. Kia (Philippines) 6. CCN Cycling Team (Brunei) 7. Aisan Racing Team (Japan) 8. Uzbekistan Suren Team (Uzbekistan) 9. Terengganu Cycling Team (Malaysia) 10. Action Cycling Team (Taiwan) 11. Dutch Global Cycling Team (Netherlands) 12. Plan B RacingTeam (Australia)

13. Bike NZ PureBlack Racing (New Zealand)

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