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LE TOUR DE FILIPINAS: Irish champ cruises to fame

Overall winner David McCann (yellow shirt) takes his place in the main peloton as they take a bend in Brgy Canbalan in Olongapo City in the fourth and last stage of LE Tour de Filipinas.    ERNIE PENAREDONDO

SUBIC , Philippines  – Multi-titled Irish rider David McCann formally captured the Le Tour de Filipinas overall individual championship yesterday, capping a dominating performance by ruling the short but punishing out-and-back final stage here.

After relaxing a little in the last two days, McCann buckled down to work again, ruling the Subic-Subic ride in a class act that could well be remembered for ages in the annual local tour.

McCann, the 37-year-old three-time Irish national road race champion and five-time national time-trial winner, completey dominated the final day, topping the intermediate sprint and one of the two featured KOM (King of the Mountain) stages.

At the close of the four-day tour, the Irish ace emerged overall individual champion as well as sprint king and co-KOM winner with South African Jaques Janse Van Rensburg.

The foreign riders wiped out the local opposition in the final stage, with German Sacha Damrow finishing second, followed by Japanese Yuzuru Suzuki, South African Allen Travis then Van Rensburg.

Two-time Padyak Pinoy winner Santy Barnachea was the best Filipino finisher, crossing the finish line at Boardwalk inside Subic Base two minutes and 32 seconds behind McCann.

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As in the Tagaytay-Tagaytay stage that also featured stiff climbs, McCann proved a class of his own, flashing by his lonesome at the finish of the second and final KOM run just outside the SBMA Morong Gate.

Then he slowed down, waiting for Damrow to join him for the big final push.

In the last 400 meters, the two riders parted ways, with McCann proving he’s the best there is, beating Damrow in the sprint.

“It’s a tough race and I’m happy to win it,” said McCann, the Giant Asian Racing team main man who added the Le Tour de Filipinas crown to his vast collection of championships on the Asian tour.

Asked whether he still dreams of competing in the Tour de France, McCann said: “I had my chance. I would rather compete in Asia and enjoy probably the last three years of riding.”

McCann stands to earn P170,000 just for his two-stage victory in the 2010 Le Tour de Filipinas, a prelude to a much bigger race next year.

“I will look forward to it,” said McCann, who could’ve been a Tour de France veteran by now if not for a suspension slapped him by the UCI after testing positive for a banned substance in 2002.

McCann and his Giant ART teammates leave for Malaysia today to compete in two short races there.

The towering Irish rider, using a European-standard bike with a 175cm and 55-arm plate (compared to local standard’s 170cm and 55-arm), clocked 11:29.20 in four stages covering a total distance of 468.8 kilometers.

Lloyd Reynante finished second 6:45 behind, followed by Baler Ravina (6:47), Damrow (7:09), Irish Valenzuela (8:33), Van Rensburgh (8:42) Joel Calderon (9:36), Oscar Rendole (11:13), Arnel Quirimit (11:13) and Ronnel Hualda (11:45).

Only 85 riders out of a starting field of 105 finished the race.

Reynante said they opted not to fight anymore yesterday, seeing the futility of it all.

“Not anymore. It’s tough with my fellow Filipinos all eyes on me, instead of focusing on our foreign rivals,” said Reynante.

The Calderon-led Smart team made a strong first-place finish on the final day to zoom past American Vinyl for the overall team championship.

American Vinyl settled for second with 7-Eleven coming in third, followed by Batang Tagaytay, Extra Joss, Air21 and CNN Sportswear-Colossi.

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