Dutch riders zooms to lead; ex-champs Cariño, Oranza crash out of race
TAGAYTAY CITY—Jeroen Meijers patiently surveyed the hilly serpentine course for almost a week and carefully mapped out the strategy that would keep him out of harm’s way.
The Dutchman from Taiyuan Miogee Cycling Team followed his game plan to the letter and led the way even in the most treacherous climbs to rule the opening stage of the 10th Le Tour de Filipinas on Friday.
“I came here six days earlier and I knew that the climbs are steep,” said Meijers, who recently placed third in the Tour of Taiyuan in China two weeks ago.
The 26-year-old rider from Tilburg, The Netherlands, reached home solo at Praying Hands Monument here in three hours, six minutes and 59 seconds.
“I paced myself at the start of the race before stepping on it near the end,” Meijers said.
Australian Angus Lyons of Oliver’s Real Food Racing checked in one minute and 39 seconds behind Meijers with Daniel Habtemichael of 7Eleven Cliqq Air21 by Road Bike Philippines completing the podium after arriving 2:07 back.
Sandy Nur Hasan of PGN Cycling Team placed fourth (2:15 behind) and teammate Aiman Cahyadi was fifth (2:22) after surviving the seven climbs that marked the 129.5-kilometer route that started in this cool city overlooking Taal Volcano.
Japanese riders Kohei Yokotsuka (same time) and Naoya Yoshioka (2:24) of Team Ukyo came shortly ahead of Muhsin Al Redha Misbah (2:26) of Team Sapura Cycling and Shuai Li (same time) of Taiyuan Miogee Cycling Team.
Saving the day for the Filipinos was Marcelo Felipe of 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Road Bike Philippines who finished with Misbah and Li to join them in the top 10.
Felipe was named best Filipino rider going into the second stage of the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) 2.2 category race on Saturday from Pagbilao in Quezon to Daet in Camarines Norte covering 194.9 km.
Another Filipino roder, Jonel Carcueva of Go For Gold Philippines Continental Cycling Team, trailed Felipe by less than three minutes.
Luck, however, wasn’t on the side of national pool riders Ronald Oranza and defending champion El Joshua Cariño, who were both eliminated.
Cariño and Oranza, both national riders, suffered from cramps on the final climb in Talisay and failed to make the cut.
“It hit me on the way up,” Cariño said in Filipino.
For Oranza, it was also a case of dehydration after a bout with diarrhea prior to the race.
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