Wong's repeat bid slowly slips away
Hong Kong's Wong Kam-po had another disappointing day at the office as his bid to retain the Centennial Tour of the Philippines title continued to falter in yesterday's 12th stage.
Wong, who was looking for a big finish on the 194.9-kilometre stage to help rekindle his chances, could only manage 10th place, five minutes behind Philippine stage winner Bernard Luzon.
Although Wong's time of five hours, 24 minutes and 25 seconds was good enough to lift him from overall 26th to 24th, he remains well off the leadership pace.
Arnel Quirimit surged back into the overall lead after finishing the mountain stage from Vigan to Baguio in second place, a split second behind Luzon.
Quirimit and Luzon were part of an early four-man attack that included Malaysia's Mohamad Mahazir Hamad outside Vigan, at one time building up a six-minute gap on erstwhile overall leader Warren Davadilla.
The lead group was down to two at the start of the stage's 20-kilometre final climb, after which Quirimit went 500 metres clear. But Luzon got his second wind and reeled him in for a breakaway finish.
The stage saw the virtual demise of Malaysian rider Hoong Tsen Seong's title challenge when he crashed heavily after 40 kms, which dropped him to 10th overall.
Hong Kong's other two riders in the race remain well back. Man Wai-chung is lying in 33rd position overall on 53 hours, 26 minutes and 16 seconds, while Ho Siu-lun is in 64th place on 55 hours, 18 minutes and 32 seconds.
Today's 13th stage, a 199.8-km race to and from Baguio with two major ascents, is seen as the tour's decider, with either Quirimit or the other strong Filipino climber, Carlo Guieb, tipped to take Wong's crown.