MANILA, Philippines – 7-Eleven’s Mark John Lexer Galedo finished second in the extremely crucial stage of the Le Tour de Filipinas to become the second Filipino to win the prestigious competition.
Galedo, a two-time winner of the local Tour, finished a strong second in the 134-km Stage Four from Bayombong City to Baguio City behind Laos’s Ariya Phounsavath.
Phounsavath, 22, of Brunei’s CCN Continental Team, won in four hours, 32 minutes and 42 seconds. He grabbed the lead from Galedo in the last 15 kilometers to finish a minute and 14 seconds ahead of the Filipino rider.
Galedo, however, had the last laugh as he dislodged two riders of the OCBC Singaporean team from the top two in the general classification, finishing the four-day race in 17:12:05, one minute and three seconds ahead of runner-up and first leg winner Eric Timothy Sheppard of the Singaporean team and 4:12 in front of Alireza Asgharzadeh of the Iranian Tabriz squad.
“Masaya ako at masaya ang team. Para sa Pilipino ito,” said the 28-year-old Galedo, who was sixth in last year’s race won by Mizbani Iranag Ghader of Iran.
Aside from pocketing $2,710, Galedo also earned 53 UCI points that catapulted him to the top 30 in the Asian rankings, making him eligible for more top-caliber international races.
“Nagkaroon lang ako ng chance umagwat. ‘Di ko ini-expect na maiwan sila ng ganun,” said Galedo, who pedalled all alone for nearly 55 kilometers, mostly in nearly 40-degree climbs until he was overtaken by Phounsavath.
Singaporean Go Choon Huat, who wore the yellow jersey for the last two days with a 3:33 lead over Galedo, reared his weakness in the climb over the Cordilleras and finished 16th place in the final stage. He fell to 11th place overall at the race presented by Air21 and sponsored by Smart, Victory Liner, NLEX, SLEX, TPLEX and M. Lhuillier that featured 10 continental teams, four clubs—three of them foreign—and the national team of the United Arab Emirates.
Sheppard, an Australian riding for the Singapore team who was second overall going into the Baguio climb, was fourth on Thursday, 2:42 behind Phounsavath, and claimed overall runner-up honors in the general classification.
Asghardzadeh jumped from 11th overall to complete the podium. He also finished 2:41 behind Phounsavath in third.
Galedo's triumph, however, was tainted when 2012 winner Baler Ravina was disqualified for holding on for more than 10 seconds long to a water bottle being handed by a team personnel in the team car.
Galedo’s 7-Eleven Roadbike Philippines team also fell to third in the team general classification, 23:45 minutes behind champion Tabriz Shahrdari Ranking. CCN Cycling Team was second, 5:04 behind the winner.