Vogt tops longest stage, Meijers still ahead
Daet, Camarines Norte —Mario Vogt knew that the longest stage in the 10th Le Tour de Filipinas can practically change the complexion of the entire race.
The German sprint specialist put himself within threatening distance of the general classification plum after nosing out Japanese Kohei Uchima of Team Ukyo in a mad dash to the line to rule the second stage of the UCI 2.2 category race here Saturday.
Vogt, the 2019 Tour de Iskandar champion in Malaysia, shared the same clocking of four hours, 49 minutes and six seconds with Uchima while Choon Huat Goh of Terengganu Cycling Team arrived five seconds behind.
“They say this is the hardest stage and winning it will put me in a better position,” said Vogt, who hails from Stuttgart, Germany, and rides for Team Sapura Cycling.
The trio of Vogt, Uchima and Goh began sneaking out of the peloton after the punishing climb in Atimonan, Quezon, before finally cutting loose near the border going into the Bicol region.
They helped each other stave off the heat and headwinds over the next 20 kilometers and sped ahead for a sprint finish upon entering the capital of this province.
Jan Paul Morales of the Philippine cycling team checked in three minutes later in the company of a huge bunch of riders that included opening-stage winner Jeroen Meijers of the Netherlands and best Filipino rider Marcelo Felipe of the 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Road Bike Philippines.
But the cyclist who benefited most after conquering the queen stage of the five-day bikathon was Goh, who practically came out of nowhere and moved up to second overall.
Meijers, who won the first stage in Tagaytay City, is still ahead in the GC, enjoying a 45-second edge over Goh and a 1:43 advantage over Australian Angus Lyons of Oliver’s Real Food Racing, who slipped to third.
“It’s getting more challenging and tricky, but I intend to keep the leader’s jersey in tomorrow’s (Sunday) race,” said Meijers, who wears the purple jersey as overall leader.