DAET, Camarines Norte—The Netherland’s Jeroen Maijers engaged Singapore’s Goh Chun Huat in a tug-of-war for the purple jersey before the former ended up keeping the lead after Stage Two that was ruled by Germany’s Mario Vogt in the 10th Le Tour de Filipinas which unfolded in Pagbilao, Quezon and concluded before a big crowd at Vinzon’s Avenue here yesterday.
Goh, representing Terengganu Inc. TSG Cycling Team of Malaysia, spearheaded the early, four-man breakaway group that included Vogt, who is riding for Team Sapura Cycling of Malaysia, stage runner-up Kohei Uchima of Team Ukyo of Japan and Samuel Hill of Team Nero Bianchi of Australia right after the grueling Atimonan climb.
They kept their torrid pace that, at one point, Goh had already stolen the lead from Meijers, who reigned supreme in the 129.5km Stage One in Tagaytay City, before the latter was alarmed and quickened their tempo in the final 40km, enough to regain the general classification lead with an aggregate time of 7:59:00.
Goh, who ended up third in the stage with a clocking of 4:49:11, however, managed to cut some time off Meijers to just 45 seconds from 1:39 minutes the day before with an overall time of 7:59:45.
Vogt went on winning the stage after he outraced Uchima in a frantic finish with the two winding up with identical times of 4:49:06.
Meijers will continue to wear the lead jersey in today’s 183.7km Stage Three with participants being flagged off in front of the Daet Market in Basabas Beach and finish at the Rizal Avenue in Legazpi City, Albay.
But the Dutch will have to be a little wary of Goh, who was the leader approaching the final stage in Baguio four years ago before losing to eventual champion Mark Galedo.
“We have to be more careful this time,” said Meijers.
For Vogt, he was just happy to get his second stage victory of the year and third in his career.
“I’m just happy to win the stage,” he said.
The emergence of Goh pushed Aussie Angus Lyons of Oliver’s Real Food Racing of Australia from second after Stage One to third in 7:59:45 while Eritrean Daniel Habtemichael of 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Roadbike Philippines to fourth in 8:01:13.
Habtermichael didn’t fall without reason as he helped teammate Marcelo Felipe, who had a flat tire in the final 40 kms, and had to wait for the team car to get a new tire to finish that somehow lessened the damage.
Felipe, however, still sputtered from No. 10 to 11 in 8:01:36 but could have suffered a worse fate without Habtermichael’s sacrifice.