Mbay, Flores. An unfinished section of road lined with gravel proved decisive in the victory of Iran's Arvin Moazemi Goudarzi in the third stage of the 2017 Tour de Flores on Sunday (16/07).
Moazemi finished the 83.3 kilometer stretch from Ende to Mbay on Flores island in East Nusa Tenggera in 2:05:57, 53 seconds faster than last year's champion, Daniel Whitehouse, who currently rides with CCN Cycling Team. Edgar Nohales Nieto, who took third, finished 1 minutes 21 seconds behind Moazemi.
The peloton of 71 riders left Ende in the morning, navigating through sharp bends along coastal roads in the initial 20 kilometer stretch. Moazemi, who also won the Tour de Singkarak in 2015, was consistent in his pace.
The top three riders rode almost side by side until the final stretch of unfinished, gravel road, when Whitehouse's tires punctured twice. Nohales was also forced to replace his rear tire, allowing Moazemi to extend his lead in the final three kilometer stretch to Mbay.
Whitehouse showed an unspectacular performance in the previous two stages of the race, raising questions among local residents, many of whom are fond of last year's champion. The 22-year-old Briton admitted to the Jakarta Globe that he suffered a bad start in the race's first stage and struggled with cramps in the second.
"I feel a lot better now and quite confident for the remaining stages. They will be harder with a lot of climbs, and a crazy descent with hundreds of turns in just 20 kilometers," Whitehouse said before the race.
True to his words, Whitehouse took the initiative to attack since the start of the race, and managed to keep a close distance with the stage winner, but in the end punctured tires undermined his effort.
There have been little changes in the overall classification. New Zealander Nick Miller of Futuro Pro Cycling finished 14th in stage 3 but remained in the lead, extending it to 58 seconds over Indonesian champion Muhammad Imam Arifin of KFC Cycling Team in second place.
Imam remained the best Indonesian, Asean and Asian rider and Choe Hyeongmin of Geumsan Insam Cello retained his green jersey from sprint classification. A fourth place in the first King of Mountain of stage 3 was enough for Keisuke Aso of Kinan Cycling Team to defend his polka dot jersey from Moazemi.
Three riders failed to finish today, with Novardianto Jamalidin of PGN Road Cycling Team suffered an accident early in the race, though was back in the fray before long. He was, however, unable to finish the race.
A total of 83 racers started from Larantuka two days ago, but only 68 will start in the race's fourth stage, which will cover 170.9 kilometers, the longest stage in the tour, to Borong. The route features a 34-kilometer long descent with 311 sharps turns between Bajawa and Aimere.
"This is a hard race with punishing climbs. A lot of racers dropping out is to be expected," said Sondi Sampurno, Tour de Flores 2017 race director.