LEGAZPI CITY — Dutch Jeroen Meijers of Taiyuan Miogee Cycing Team of China successfully defended his lead in the fifth and final stage topped by German Mario Vogt of Team Sapura Cycling of Malaysia to snare his first title in three years in the 10th Le Tour de Filipinas that concluded yesterday in this beautiful Bicol City fronting the majestic Mayon Volcano here.
Meijers, 26, was with Singaporean Goh Choon Huat of Terrenganu Inc., TSG Cycling of Malaysia in the peloton that clocked three hours, 34 minutes and 48 seconds to secure the victory with a total clocking of 20:38:07.
Goh finished second overall in 20:38:52 while Aussie Angus Lyons of Oliver’s Real Food Racing of Australia was third with a time of 20:39:45.
7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Roadbike Philippines’ Daniel Habtemichael (20:40:20), PGN Road Cycling Team’s Sandy Nur Hasan (20:40:32) and Aiman Cahyadi (20:40:39), Team Ukyo’s Kohei Yokotsuka (20:40:39) and Naoya Yoshioka (20:40:41) and Team Sapura Cycling’s Muhsin Al Redha Misbah (20:40:42) and Taiyuan Miogee’s Li Shuai (20:40:43) rounded up the top 10.
“I felt good entering Stage Five, we had a good feeling about it and I know you need to celebrate at the finish line, not before because anything can happen,” said Meijers, whose last manor victory came in France three years back.
Vogt topped the 138.1km Stage Five in 3:33:39 and bested Filipino Dominic Perez of 7Eleven and Malaysian Mohd Zamri Saleh of Terengganu Inc TSG Cycing Team of Malaysia, who each timed in 3:34:41.
It was the third podium finish for the 27-year-old Stuttgart native after he also ruled Stage Two Saturday and placed third in Stage Four Monday. Vogt eventually finished 12th overall.
Team Ukyo clinched the team crown in 61:59:35 and the US$1,200 (P62,400) purse.
Taiyuan Miogee wound up second (622:36) and PGN Road Cycling Team (62:03:05) third in this five-stage race sponsored by Air21, Cargohaus, NMM, Ufreight and SPL and backed by the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines and Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office with ONE Sports by Cignal as official coveror.
Filipino Marcelo Felipe of 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Roadbike Phls slipped from 10th to 11th in 20:43:43 after losing to Li via countback.
Li had a better finish than Felipe in Stage Four, paving the way for the former to steal No. 10. Felipe, however, went home as the best Filipino rider, besting Mark Galedo of Celeste Cycles Bianchi Philippines, who won this same race five years ago, and Go for Gold’s Jonel Carcueva, who finished 15th and 16th overall, respectively.
A Meijers ascent started in Stage One Friday when bested all comers to win the lap. Meijers lost the Air21 purple jersey for a time in Stage Two when Goh orchestrated the breakaway group only to for the latter to get it back at the end of it. And then it was all Meijers from there.
Le Tour chair Donna Mae Lina later said she’s looking forward to next year’s 11th edition. “It was a fitting end to Le Tour’s 10th year anniversary and we’re excited for another one next year,” said Lina.