Dutch Jeroen Meijers collects Le Tour trophy
LEGAZPI CITY—Jeroen Meijers of the Netherlands steered clear from trouble and simply floated with his challengers to seal the deal in the 10th Le Tour de Filipinas in this city famed for its scenic view of the majestic Mayon Volcano.
The 26-year-old Dutchman who rides for Taiyuan Miogee Cycling wore the purple jersey of overall leadership since the opening stage five days ago in Tagaytay City and completed his first general classification title in three years.
“All the hard work paid off,” said Meijers after arriving with a large group of riders that included his closest rival, Choon Huat Goh of Singapore, at the finish of the fifth stage won by Mario Vogt of Team Sapura Cycling.
The German sprint specialist surged ahead of the eight-man lead pack in the final 10 kilometers to rule the 138.1-km ride that started and ended in this Albay provincial capital.
Vogt, who also topped the second stage in Daet, Camarines Sur, clocked three hours, 33 minutes and 39 seconds, while Dominic Perez of 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Road Bike Philippines checked in second, 1:02 behind, after asserting his mastery in a mad dash to the line with five other riders.
Mohd Saleh of Terrenganu Cycling Team placed third in the stage.
With just a small climb and a sprint during the early stretch of the race, the peloton sped through rolling terrain going to Donsol, Sorsogon, where the world-renowned whale shark has become a popular tourist attraction.
On the way back, Meijers weathered serious attacks by the other contenders to claim his third career GC after winning the Fleche Ardennaise in Liege, Belgium and Kreiz Breizh Elites in Bretagne, France, both in 2016.
“It feels very rewarding. I arrived almost a week before the race and prepared for the challenges that lay ahead,” said Meijers.
Overall, Goh wound up second, 45 seconds behind, followed by Angus Lyon of Oliver’s Real Food Racing (1:38 behind), Daniel Habtemichael of 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 RBP (2:13), PGN Road Cycling’s Sandy Nur Hasan (2:25) and Aiman Cahyadi (2:32) and Japanese Kohei Yokotsuka (same time).
Naoya Yoshioka, Yokotsuka’s teammate at Team Ukyo, placed eighth overall (2:34), Malaysia’s Muhsin Misbah finished ninth (2:35), Shuai Li of Taiyuan Miogee, 10th (2:36) and SPL best Filipino rider Marcelo Felipe of 7Eleven RBP 11th.
Jhon Mark Camingao of the national team claimed the NMM King of the Mountain award, Vogt seized the Cargohaus best sprinter accolade and Habtemichael was named U-Freight best young rider.
Team Ukyo topped the team GC over Taiyuan Miogee Cycling while Go For Gold Philippines Continental Cycling Team emerged as the best Filipino team after finishing ahead of the national squad.