TOUR: DOMINGO WEARS YELLOW JERSEY

San Fernando City, La Union, May 8, 2003 -- Frederick Feliciano and Enrique 
Domingo were in for a big surprise on a day supposed to be the calm before 
the storm Wednesday in the Air 21 Tour Pilipinas 2003.

Feliciano only wanted to keep up his constant attack that began since the 
Tour started last April 26. In the final 600 meters of the 11th lap that 
ended here, he summoned enough of a finishing kick to outsprint his 
breakaway partners in the final 600 meters and win pulling away.

"Hindi ko talaga ini-expect na maipanalo ko ito," said the 25-year-old 
rider from Aliaga, Nueva Ecija, his hopes almost dashed when a 13-man 
second group that included the Tour's big guns caught up with him and the 
lead pack some 60 kms from the finish.

The Drug Busters assistant captain submitted a clocking of five hours, two 
minutes and 15 seconds for the 214.20-km 11th lap from Laoag to here, 
winning by a full three seconds over Patrol 117 skipper and provincemate 
Bernard Luzon.

It was Feliciano's first lap victory in only his first campaign in big-time 
cycling and the member of the RP mountain bike team said it was sheer will 
power that gave him the decisive boost.

"Dati na kasi akong umaatake, pero kinakapos," said the grinning Feliciano, 
who finished third in the Daet-to-Lucena fourth stage. "Pero ang sabi ko, 
hindi ako titigil hangga't hindi ako nakakakuha ng lap."

Flashing the same big smile was Domingo who checked in with the 14-man 
third group. The pack's time of 5:02.18 was a full three minutes and 42 
seconds ahead of the main peloton that included overnight leader Arnel 
Quirimit.

As a result, the DOTC Postmen team captain vaulted from fourth to first 
overall, razing a one minute, 31 second-deficit and posting a 2:09 lead 
over Quirimit, the Tanduay skipper, going into Thursday's start of the 
"killer" climbs to Baguio, which experts said would decide this year's winner.

Domingo said wresting the yellow jersey never even entered his mind, his 
goal for the day being just to crowd Luzon and earn more points for the 
Sprint King title.

"Siya (Luzon) kasi ang kalaban ko doon. Kaya bago mag-umpisa ang sabi ko sa 
kanya, kahit saan ka pumunta, anino mo ako," he related.

Giving Domingo a big boost was the P5,000 he got from a private sponsor 
that was intended to purchase vitamins. He instead used it to buy a new set 
of tires.

"Natawaran ko ng mga P3,000. Kaya iyung natira pang-kain. Tuloy, mamaya 
ibo-blowout ko ng ice cream ang mga ka-teammates ko," he said.

The celebration could be short-lived as Quirimit vowed to make up for lost 
ground through the crucial mountain stages of the event supported by 
Lipovitan, Accel, Longines, FedEx, Philtranco, Mail and More, San Mig Light 
and BPI-MS.

"Okey lang mawala sa akin dahil sa Baguio pa rin naman magkakatalo. Kung 
sino ang overall leader pagkatapos ng Baguio, siya na ang champion at 
pipilitin kong ako iyon," said Quirimit, who remained 44 seconds ahead of 
third-running Merculio Ramos of Samsung. (By NOLI CORTEZ, Malaya)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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