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Kelly’s Jesse Anthony scores win in Luzon

Anthony celebrates. Photo: Steve Thomas

Despite Kelly Benefit Strategies clearly being the strongest team in this year’s Tour of Luzon, and having held the race lead since Ryan Anderson’s time trial stage victory on day 2, they had yet to make it first across the line on a road stage; until stage 4 that was, when Jesse Anthony crossed the line at the head of a breakaway group to take his first win of the year.

The stage was held around the Clarke region, a town that was largely built to facilitate the old U.S. airbase, and is now a duty-free haven serviced by many regional budget carriers. The circuit was not the regular Clarke Raceway loop (which is used for many local races), but was held on suburban streets using a 10.5-kilometer flat circuit, which was covered eight times in all  for 84km.

With the previous day’s Filipino stage victory in their hearts, the local riders were in high sprits, and eager to attack from the get go, especially the Liquigaz riders, who took stage 3. But despite cleaning up a couple of intermediate sprints, the big game was coolly being played out and controlled between the KBS boys and their arch rivals from South Africa, Team EMG.

Any of the serious breaks during the second half of the race had representatives of both teams in their ranks, as both outfits have a number of riders in close contention for the final GC. Things were closely marked, especially as there are stage-finish time bonus seconds on offer, which could well change the ownership of the yellow jersey, at least for the time being.

Into the final four laps and a sizable break went clear, with KBS well represented, and then race leader Ryan Anderson and second overall James Perry of EMG bridges to the group, which soon opened up a safe enough gap to fight it out the stage win between them.

There were four KBS riders in the lead group, but the fast finishing Perry had upstaged them on day one in a similar situation, and they were anxious not to make the same mistake again. As Jesse Anthony explained; “We had four riders in the group, and decided to really try and work him (Perry) over, to be sure he didn’t get the win, and maybe even take the yellow.”

Coming into the finishing straight and the KBS boys were well in control, with Anthony leading from the front to clearly take the stage victory ahead of teammate Anderson, who added an additional 5 seconds time bonus to his overall lead, making it a great day out or the team.

Stage 5 will be the first hilly stage, ending with a 4 km climb. This will surely clarify who’s the boss in this race.

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