THE mountains are coming for Wong Kam-po, and Hong Kong's cycling ace is relishing the prospect as the Centennial Tour of the Philippines moves into its second half today. With half the race over, defending champion Wong is currently lying in 22nd position - 35 minutes and 54 seconds behind Tour leader Warren Davadilla of the Philippines. A hopeless situation most might say. But not the man himself. 'I realise that I have lost a significant amount of time in the earlier stages but I hope to gain some of this back in the forthcoming mountain stages,' he said. The Marlboro-sponsored race resumes after yesterday's rest day with a time-trial stage. Wong likes this, but he loves the mountains better. And there are three such stages coming up soon - stages 12 to 14. The self-professed lover of the mountain climb is savouring his chances. 'I'm feeling good,' said Wong yesterday, looking forward to the second half of the 16-stage race. 'My performance over the past two days has definitely improved. I feel a lot stronger, both physically and mentally.' When Wong shocked the Philippines last year by winning a race that had been opened to overseas riders for the first time in 42 years, he did it by coming from behind. The 25-year-old feels he can do it again, a view fully supported by former Hong Kong champion Hung Chung-yam, who yesterday voiced his expert opinion. 'He can still make it. Nothing is impossible with Wong,' said Hung, Hong Kong's leading rider from the mid-1980s to the early '90s before Wong took over his mantle. Wong is pinning his hopes not only on his ability to climb, but also on the staying power, or lack of it, exhibited by the Filipino riders last year. 'Last year the Philippines team raced very aggressively early on but they could not maintain that performance . . . so we will see what happens over the next few days,' said Wong. Today's time trial takes place on a 20.1-kilometre circuit at the Subic Bay Freeport with the riders going off at one-minute intervals. The second half of today's ninth stage will be later in the day - an 80-km sprint, or four laps around this circuit. 'This stage was strategically placed after a day's rest so that the riders would be able to capitalise on the chance to rest, recover and recuperate,' said the Tour's technical director, Mick Bennett. The Hong Kong team, currently cut to just three riders (out of six) will certainly hope this is the case with Wong. The SAR's star rider may have left himself a mountain, or two, to climb. But Wong is still confident that he can pull off a huge comeback.