Today is the last big mountain stage where Team Infinite Singha Peter Pouly can finally take time and seal the tour once and for all… and that’s at least what was in our mind.
you hear it for the first time here… on the evening of the rest day before the stage 10 Baguio City criterium, Peter Pouly started running a high fever. the morning of Stage 10, the camp of Team Infinite Singha were all going frenzy over it as it seem the fever got worst! we had to hide this news from the outside, for you know why…
somehow, he got thru the short but very fast criterium… kept his position on GC and we been keeping out fingers crossed since.
so the morning of Stage 11 came… i had asked Peter countlessly how was he feeling and if he had recovered, the answer was not all that comforting but i knew the race for Peter had to go on and he will always pull something off. as for me, my job is to just follow his orders…
a very short 4.6km neutral rolling start and the race was on its way.
again, today’s stage 11 was a short 95.8km. it would also be the last stage with a big mountain top finish. but first, it was flat for close to 40km before a cat 4 KOM @km44.5. a short decent and rolling hills before the big climb begins… the climb will start with about 35km to go, got steep with 5km to go and the last 900 metres it gets steeper, until the last 250 metres, some would described it as a wall!
as Peter was sitting comfortably at 3rd on GC, it was also our responsibility to send someone in front to help do some work if required. so there i was, working in front with Team 7-Eleven and Road Bike Philippines the minute a breakaway went. we kept the break of two riders on a short leash of about 1’30 secs at max and this went on for about 40km.
i then swing to the back of the peleton, did my first water duty… got back to the front but Peter seemed fine without any refueling for now… so i had carried the bottles into the first cat KOM. i continued to stay close to Peter, just a few bikes away, awaiting any orders. Peter was looking good again and that was a good thing.
50km into the race, Peter asked for coke and i went back to the car once more and picked up 2 bottle of cokes and got back quickly… he took a slip and at this point, the big climb was just about to begin and my job for the day was almost over… as i started to struggle and got drop very quickly…
with 35km to go, also the last time i saw Peter. the peleton then disappeared from my sight. (if i was not wrong, the breakaway of two riders were caught by now)
at around the 31km mark to go, #14 Junrey of PLDT made the move of the day! he had accelerated off and Peter followed, FLAT!
Peter Pouly had a flat with 30km to go! he was then very calm, he slowly removed his rear wheel, waited for a few seconds… willy came running with a replacement… he then took a slip of water… this was also when Morgan, our other team mate came up from behind… Peter rode behind him for a while and rode off in pursuit of the peleton.
Peter quickly very caught up with a group but by now, this group only consisted probably a dozen of riders, including his ally from CCN, Jason Christie.
immediately, Jason went in front of Peter and set a fast but steady tempo that would eventually catch the GC leader and main contenders… Peter took some time to recover and as his last 5km chasing was hard. Jason swing to the left, his job for Peter had been done. We saluted this rider, from CCN. Thank you Jason Christie!
by now, lone rider Junrey was already ahead by over a minute from this field of all the main contenders; Galedo, Riemon, Peter, Felipe, George, Daiki and company.
25km to go, 7Eleven and Road Bike Philippines riders took control and set a tempo which would see Junrey increased his lead from just over a minute to a maximum of 2’50 secs with 15km to go.
Peter Pouly then attacked! somehow, today he did not had the legs like before. he was not able to go into his red zone “comfortably”. still, this elite field of close to a dozen of riders started to break up.
this first attack of many to come from Peter narrowed the field to 6… he turned back and see these riders were still clinging on… he stood up and put in another series of acceleration. now, 4 riders left behind him; Galedo, Riemon, Felipe and George (all the top GC riders)
Peter continued to do this each time the road got steep. this in turn shaked off another rider, now with less than 10km to go, there was Peter, Galedo, Riemon and George (by the way, George is the best young rider and also the sprint classification leader).
with the time gap from Junrey standing at the 2′ min mark with almost 10km to go, Galedo, the leader of the Tour took responsibility and went in front to push now.
gap stood at 2′ mins as they approached the downhill section into the tunnel.
George attacked or maybe he just wanted some momentum before the road kicked up again. George got his gap over the trio behind.
Peter and Galedo worked together as Riemon followed… caught George quickly.
it’s 6km to go, the road ahead will just continued to kick up without mercy…
5km signboard sighted and Peter and Galedo dropped Riemon (2nd on GC)
Peter and Galedo topped the summit, a flat section would followed before they turn right into the winding road, and then the road that would eventually lead them to the hotel…
on this flat section, Peter dropped a few gears, went full gas and somehow he dropped Galedo and now, Junrey was in sight.
Peter could finally see Junrey, after more than 30km of chasing up hill!
as they turned right into the winding road, Peter lost sight of Junrey temporarily.
Peter continued to push on, and 1km to go! he entered the steep climb towards the hotel with Junrey just no more than 20 secs ahead…
the last 200 metres… the wall… Peter was not able to catch Junrey in the end…
Peter Pouly took 2nd for stage 11, bagged enough KOM points to secure the Mitsubishi Diamond KOM jersey, took a handful of seconds from Galedo and Riemon, however he remained 3rd on GC.
vinny, that’s me, fought his way in 36’51 secs later, just in time to catch Peter on the stage. vinny can’t say he was not disappointed when he heard about the puncture.
however, Peter was more than happy that he had managed to not loss any time, got 2nd and KOM secured, despite the fever that freaked the crews and riders at Team Infinite Singha for the past 2 days!
3 more stages! anything can still happen…
this is vinny reporting…