TAGAYTAY CITY: Dutch rider Jeroen Meijers banked on a solid uphill climb to win Stage 1 of the 10th Le Tour de Filipinas on Friday here.
The Taiyuan Miogee Cycling Team standout registered three hours, six minutes and 59 seconds to top international and local bets in the 129-kilometer out-and-back route.
Meijers spent a week prior to the competition to accustom himself on the route and his effort paid off.
“I hit the climb twice during my training that’s why I knew that the first one is the steepest and after that it slows a little bit and it gets less steep. I just waited long and almost at the end of the steep part where I made the move,” said the 26-year old cyclist after crossing the finish line in front of the Praying Hands Monument.
Meijers pulled away from Daniel Habtemichael of 711 Cliqq-Air11 in the last five kilometers en route to winning the first stage of the UCI 2.2 category annual competition.
Australian Angus Lyons of Olivers Real Food Cycling finished one minute and 39 seconds behind the leader while the Eritrean Habtemichael crossed the finish line 28 seconds after to finish third.
Habtemichael donned the red jersey for being the stage’s Best Young Rider.
“The 711 team closed the gap during the early break, which is beside the lake, and before the beginning of the climb. I attacked with the first group and waited for the long climb,” added Meijers, who took the blue and orange jerseys after being named King of the Mountain and Best Sprinter, respectively.
Marcelo Felipe of 711 Cliqq-Air21 was the lone Philippine bet in the top 10, crossing the finish line two minutes and 26 seconds after the leader. Felipe was also named Best Filipino Rider.
“I think the team’s main objective for tomorrow is to close the gap because a stage win and podium finish is a very big thing in any UCI sanctioned races,” said Commissaire Lorenzo Lomibao.
The Stage 2 race is a 194.9km flat route from the Pagbilao Park in Quezon Province to Vinzons Avenue in Daet, Camarines Norte.
The cycling event, offering P1.8 million in prizes, is sanctioned by the Integrated Cycling of the Philippines.
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