TAGAYTAY CITY—Flying Dutch Jeroen Meijers of Taiyuan Miogee Team bested all comers including top locals El Joshua Carino and Ronald Oranza in claiming Stage One victory yesterday in the 10th Le Tour de Filipinas that started and finished at the Praying Hands Monument here.
Meijers, 26, was incredible in the ascent as he methodically negotiated the steep Sampaloc Road in Talisay, Batangas, that propelled him straight to the solo general classification lead with a clocking of three hours, six minutes and 59 seconds.
It was the second podium finish for Meijers after he wound up third in Stage One of the Toir of Taiyuan in China on his way finish third overall in that race two weeks ago.
“I was here six days and I knew the climb was going to be steep so I just took my time at the beginning before I stepped on it late,” said Meijers, who took up the sport when he was only six years old.
Checking in at second was Angus Lyons of Oliver’s Real Food Racing of Australia, who clocked 3:08:38, while 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Roadbike Philippines’ Daniel Habtemichael of Eritria ended up at third in 3:09:06. Marcelo Felipe, who skippers 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 Roadbike Philippines, prevented an all-foreigner top 10 and finished at 10th in 3:09:25.
PGN Road Cycling Team of Indonesia’s Sandy Nur Hasan (3:09:14) and Aiman Cahyadi (3:09:21), Team Ukyo of Japan’s Kohei Yokotuka (3:09:21) and Naoya Yoshioka (3:09:23), Team Sapura Cycling of Malaysia’s Muhsin Al Redha (3:09:25) and Taiyuan Mogee’s Li Shuai (3:95:25) came in at fourth to ninth place, respectively.
Carino and Oranza, in contrast, faltered under tremendous pressure. They both suffered cramps and failed to make the cutoff that led to their elimination.
Carino claimed he missed training in full regimen in the past four days while Oranza rued dehydration as the culprit.
“Cramps,” said a frustrated Carino.
For Oranza, the diarrhea that hit him in a race last week zapped the energy out of him.
“Hindi pa ako nakaka-recover masyado (I haven’t fully recovered),” Oranza said.
The absence of Carino and Oranza left the national team, all from the heralded Navy-Standard Insurance squad, with just three riders in the fold—Junrey Navarra, Jhon Mark Camingao and Jan Paul Morales.
Navarra, a dark horse to win in this stage being the many-time King of the Mountain winner in local races, was at 20th in 3:12:21 while Camingao and Morales were at 24th and 25th with times of 3:15:15 and 3:15:25.
The race will resume today with the 194.9-km Stage Two, which will start in Pagbilao, Quezon, and end in Daet, Camarines Norte, with Meijers wearing the purple jersey symbolic of the general classification lead.