1st Feb 2014 : Stage 1 (2 hours + 3 laps around a fast 2km circuit)
spirit was high but we were all feeling anxious, as it the first stage always produce surprises.
we all gathered for breakfast in the race hotel and rode with the convoy to the race starting point at 730am sharp.
morning traffic in Manila was a bit of an insanity but somehow we made our way with the help of the race marshals to the start point without any incident.
upon reaching the start point, you can sense the level of warmth from the Filipino, both cycling enthusists and locals. oh boy, it was crowded!
the organisers had prepared a tent for each team, with signage. for a while, we were like stars, with local cyclists asking for photos opportunities and media crews talking to us, taking pictures while we sat there.
then came my favorite part, the sign on followed by the team presentation, with all 8 of the podium girls on stage!
the national anthem was played, final instructions were announced and we were about to roll…
there was a 18.5km parade rolling start into Manila together with hundreds of other local cyclist, all escort by the race convoy. I would only describe it as incredible. how often do you get to ride into Manila morning hour rush hour traffic without having to stop.
just as we head back to the circuit where the race is, the classic, “taking a leak” happened, with almost the entire peleton stopping to make one more nature break.
over the start banner, the commissaire waved the flag and we were on our way…
the speed immediately went up to the high 50s, touching a max of 63km/hr every once in a while… a lap around this 2km circuit quickly finished…
on lap 2, a move went off and one of our riders, Vincent quickly countered and were in it… there, for 14 laps, he was taking turns with the leaders (including the eventual race winner Jason from CCN)
when the peleton caught up with this 10 man break on lap 15 or 16, Jason with another 3 Filipino riders attacked immediately. as the circuit has a blind spot ahead, you never know what’s happening, unless you are right in front…. so there it went, the winning move happened there and then…
the peleton reacted with many attacks but it all did not work. everyone was contented to let the breakaway go, for now.
the speed started to pick up again before the lap 50 sprint lap. this time, Morgan countered a move and disappeared into the front of this chasing peleton, we would not see Morgan until the end of the race.
Alex, Peter and Vincent remains in this peleton, but there must be at least 20 riders chasing in front. the gap went from 1’09 and rose to almost 2 minutes. there was a high chance of the leaders lapping the peleton, so as we picked up speed, Peter sensed the opportunity to form a group and left this peleton. it turned out to be an all important move for him to stay in contention.
vincent and Alex continued to roll on with this peleton… and before we knew it, the commissaire car came by and we were told to pit and it’s game over… we were to be penalised 1 min on top of the gap between us and the leaders and we get to start tomorrow.
now it’s to the side line to watch Morgan and Peter continue to chase down the leaders. we could see Morgan chasing very hard and a distance back, Peter was chasing what he deemed as GC contender ahead of him. each group and rider all seems to have an agenda of their own.
at this point with 10 mins and 3 laps to go, we knew who the winner would be, as he still look rather fresh.
but all eyes in the Team Infinite Singha were on Peter. Peter had to close the all important gap between himself and some of the top GC contenders.
the time slowly diminished and the laps got lesser and lesser… and yes, Peter together with Morgan are with the GC riders.
ahead, Jason from CCN won the race with ease, with time to celebrate.
Peter’s group came in 1 min 52 secs later… he even put a few seconds to some of his GC rivals. GREAT JOB!
Morgan almost came in safely in this group.
tomorrow, we have an epic 181km stage with some serious climbing… let’s hope tomorrow something great will for our climbing trio of Peter/Morgan/Alex