21 year old Daniel Whitehouse of Terrangganu Cycling Team has won the Tour de Flores. After making his intentions clear with a fantastic stage win on day 2, Whitehouse defended his lead to win the inaugural Tour de Flores by almost three minutes.
Stage 2 was a defining moment for Daniel Whitehouse as he took a stage win in the fashion that many could only dream about. This might have been in part due to his time losses of the day before that saw him start the day 5.57mins down on overnight leader Jason Christie. Such a large deficit made him apparently little much of a threat to the GC standings . . . . oh how wrong we all were.
In the course of 141.3km Daniel Whitehouse became a household name in Indonesia as he spent the day out on his own to finish 3.36mins ahead of the field, jumping from 47th to 1st and in the driver’s seat in the Tour de Flores. From here though the task would be a tough one. The gaps to second and third were 10 seconds and 1 minute respectively; time that could well be made up over the course of the next three stages. And that’s before we even consider that someone much like Whitehouse could do the same thing again and leap to the lead with another Voigt-like breakaway attempt.
All was to play for in the third difficult stage from Ende to Bajawa that saw the field take on four tough climbs en route to the finish line; including an HC mountain that peaked with just 10km remaining; and with an uphill ramp to the finish. Whitehouse was expected to come under heavy fire but the Christchurch youngster kept his cool, remaining with the lead group as Ronald Yeung of Wisom-Hengxiang Cycling Team took the stage. Whitehouse contented himself with marking his rivals which he did successfully; and was able to move on with that 10 second lead still very much there.
Stage 4 was similar in that the latter stages went up and up and up mostly after the fast downhill start. The road to Ruteng took in two HC climbs this time, and again Whitehouse had the match of his closest rival Robin Manulang of Indonesia. The race did start to bring to the attention the presence of Benjamin Prades though, the Spaniard on Team UKYO. Prades finished second on the stage, 31 seconds ahead of the Whitehouse group. It would still be a tall order for Prades to catch Whitehouse with a 3.05min deficit; but he was certainly mounting a late charge.
The final stage was expected to hurt, but possibly not be as challenging as previous days. The 121.5km road to Labuhan Bajo featured three climbs, two category 1s and an HC climb at the start. But what might have been a slightly easier day in the saddle turned into anything but as Prades launched an assault on second placed Robin Manulang.
The Spaniard took off and was joined at the front of the race by Ricardo Garcia of Kinan Cycling Team and Daniel Whitehouse. A move like this would often trigger the alarm bells of teams behind but there was nothing anyone could do to stop the race leader and soon-to-be race winner, and the rider sitting third overall from gaining substantial time over the rest of the field. Garcia was also one worth noting as he started the day in 5th place overall and Manulang’s place on the podium began to look under threat.
By the time the race reached its end the trio had 1.29mins on lone chaser Woo-ho Jung of Geumsan Insam Cello and 2.50mins on the chase group behind him. Whitehouse was done and the two Spaniards duelled it out for the stage win; with Prades taking the honours. But Whitehouse had done it. He’d successfully defended an impressive lead to secure the win by 2.56mins ahead of Prades and 3.40mins ahead of Garcia. Australian Jai Crawford of Kinan Cycling and Robin Manulang completed the top 5.
The victory for Whitehouse is easily the biggest win of the 21 year old’s young career and bodes well for things to come.