Zemlyakov conquers 2016 Le Tour de Filipinas

Zemlyakov conquers 2016 Le Tour de Filipinas
Oleg Zemlyakov of Vino 4-Ever SKO-Kazakhstan won the 2016 Le Tour de Filipinas individual general classification title.

LEGAZPI CITY, Albay --- Kazakhstan’s Oleg Zemlyakov bucked a busted cogset on his bicycle’s rear wheel and a broken brake in the last 30 kilometers of the 160.20 km. out-and-back Stage 4 route in this bustling city to crown himself as the 2016 Le Tour de Filipinas individual general classification champion Sunday afternoon.

The 22-year-old climbing expert of Vino 4-Ever SKO pedaled with the peloton to cross the finish line in the two-lap race that started and ended in front of the city hall here 11 seconds behind stage winner Australian Timothy Guy of Attaque Team Gusto, who clocked 3:52:50.

Zemlyakov, last year’s best young rider winner, maintained his hold of the yellow jersey after winning it in Stage 2 to finish the four-leg race that sliced through the Southern backdoor of Antipolo in Rizal, Lucena City in Quezon, Daet in Camarines Norte to the capital city of the province of Albay with Mayon Volcano serving as a majestic backdrop.

He clocked an accumulated time of 17:36:23 to edge teammate and 2016 Best Young Rider winner 19-year-old Yevgeniy Gidich by 19 seconds (17:36:42).

Zemylyakov, who finished fifth overall last year behind Frenchman Thomas Lebas, did the feat despite having trouble with his cogset and snapped brake in the last 30 kilometers of the last lap entering the town of Guinobatan.

The 1-2 finish of Zemlyakov and Gidich helped Vino 4-Ever pocket the Team General Classification title with a final aggregate time of 52:53:02 ahead of host country’s 7-Eleven SAVA RBP (52:58:18) and Terengganu Cycling Team-Malaysia (52:59:00).          

“Our (strategy) is to control the riders and control the team’s gap,” said the Kazakh squad’s team manager Sergey Danniker, who added that his squad will remain in the city to prepare for Tour of Taiwan on March 6. “It is just very hot here. In our country it’s winter, -20 or – 30 degrees and now here it’s +30. It’s very difficult and very hot all the time.”

It was Vino 4-Ever SKO that collected most of Le Tour's stage awards as Zhandos Bizhigitov won the abbreviated Stage 1 race's green and red polka dots jerseys.        

Terengganu’s Batmunkh Maral-Erdene completed the IGC podium finish after a 21-second gap from Zemlyakov as the Mongolian overtook Australian 7-Eleven SAVA RBP rider Jesse Jane Ewart, who lurked in third place since Stage 2, by a second.

Stage 3 winner Wesley Sulzberger captured the stage’s green jersey (sprint) while Filipino rider Ronnel Hualda of Kopiko Cebu-Philippines gave the local crowd a measure of pride after winning the last King of the Mountain challenge (red polka dots jersey).

Rounding up the top 10 in the IGC are Pinoy rider Marcelo Felipe, who won the Best Philippine Rider recognition, of 7-Eleven (17:37:45), Ryu Suzuki of Bridgestone Anchor Cycling Team-Japan ((17:37:48), Salvador Guardiola Tora of Team Ukyo-Japan (17:37:48), Kenji Itami of Kinan Cycling (17:37:48), Rustom Lim of PhilCycling (17:38:27) and Suryadi Dadi of Terengganu (17:38:30).  

Lebas, who never got his game going and suffered two busted tires in Stage 3's Daet-Legazpi race, finished at a distant 25th spot, 10 minutes and 25 seconds off Zemlyakov.    




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