Jeroen Meijers seeks major triumph
LEGAZPI CITY, Albay , Philippines — Dutchman Jeroen Meijers of Taiyuan Miogee Cycling Team of China is on the verge of victory in the 10th Le Tour de Filipinas cycling odyssey.
And barring no major incident in today’s fifth and final lap, the 26-year-old climber will be wearing the coveted crown by noontime.
However, he insisted that it’s not over yet in this year’s battle.
“I have to stay on my guard because there is still a stage to go,” said Meijers, who has held the overall lead since topping the Tagaytay City Stage 1 last Friday.
The final stage of this year’s Le Tour is a 138.1 km lap that will unfold and conclude in this sun-kissed city that offers a majestic view of beautiful Mayon Volcano.
In the overall classification, Meijers is looking at an aggregate time of 17 hours, three minutes and 19 seconds. he is 45 seconds ahead of Singapore’s Goh Choon Huat of Terengganu Inc. TSG Cycling Team.
Meijers, who finished third overall in the Tour of Taiyuan in China two weeks ago, had all the answers against Goh in yesterday’s fourth stage that was won by Australian Jessie Coyle of Team Nero Bianchi.
Coyle, 24, edged youthful Muhammad Shaiful Adian Mohd Shukri of Team Sapura Cycling of Malaysia in a mad dash to the finish and clocked four hours, 28 minutes and 41 seconds in the 183.7 km lap that started and ended here and passed through Sorsogon City, Gubat and Casiguran.
It was Coyle’s first lap win in an International Cycling Union (UCI)-sanctiond race.
The 21-year-old Mohd Shukri settled for second and submitted the same time as Coyle while Mario Vogt, the former’s teammate, checked in at third in 4:29:13, the same clocking by the riders in the peloton that included Meijers and Goh, who stuck to each other like a leech.
The stage triumph made up for Coyle’s misfortune in the Pagbilao-Daet Stage 2 last Saturday when he hurt his ribs due to a crash.
“I crashed in Stage 2 so I had a hard time getting out of the saddle,” said Coyle, a native of Sydney. “But I came around before the line and sprint it on the line in the last 20km to get my first UCI win in my second UCI race.”
All eyes will be on Meijers in the final stage of this bikefest sponsored by Air21, Cargohaus, NMM, Ufreight and SPL and backed by the Phl National Police, Armed Forces of the Phl and Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office with Onesports by Cignal as official coveror.
There were some anxious moments as Stage 3 winner Samuel Hill of Team Nero figured in a crash in an unpaved road in the final 40 km stretch in Sorsogon. A team vehicle for Oliver’s Real Food Racing Australia almost hit the fallen rider, who suffered minor bruises, and a Filipino marshal.