LEGAZPI CITY, Albay — Aussie Jessie Coyle of Team Nero Bianchi of Australia outsprinted Malaysian Adian Mohd Shukri of Team Sapura Cycling of Malaysia to the finish to rule Stage 4, even as Dutchman Jeroen Meijers of Taiyuan Miogee Cycling Team of China clung to the Air21 purple jersey in the 10th Le Tour de Filipinas in Legazpi on Monday.
The 24-year-old Coyle bucked a sore rib that he sustained from a Stage 2 crash a couple of days back, to edge the 21-year-old Mohd in a frantic ending to reign supreme in the 183.7-kilometer, Legazpi-Sorsogon (via Gubat)-Legazpi Stage 4 with both submitting the same clocking of four hours, 28 minutes and 41 seconds.
German Mario Vogt, Mohd’s teammate who ruled the Pagbilao-Daet Stage 2 last Saturday, claimed his second podium finish and wound up at third in 4:29:13, which was the same time registered by the peloton that included Meijers—the individual general classifications leader.
When Coyle reached the balloon arc at the finish, he screamed in jubilation as he claimed his very first lap win in an International Cycling Union (UCI) race.
“It’s my first UCI win, it’s an amazing feeling because it is such a strong field,” said Coyle, who hails from Sydney. “It’s awesome to get this kind of result and seeing that my hard work as well as the whole team is paying off.”
Meijers, who took the lead after topping Stage 1 in Tagaytay Friday, employed the same tactic he had in Stage 3 and checked every attempt launched by his closest pursuer, Singaporean Goh Choon Huat of Terengganu Inc. TSG Cycling Team of Malaysia, to keep his stranglehold of the top spot.
After four grueling stages, Meijers remained untouchable at No. 1 with an aggregate time of 17:03:19, while Go stayed at No. 2 in 17:04:04.
Meijers could end up using the fifth and final stage, which will still start and end here in Legazpi but will pass through Donsol Beach, as his coronation ride as his 45-second lead over Goh could be safe enough to preserve the win — unless, of course, something untoward happened to the big guns.
“We’ll try to be a little cautious because anything can happen in a race,” said Meijers. “But mostly, we’ll keep the same plan of defending the purple jersey as much as we can.”
Samuel Hill of Team Nero, who ruled the Daet-Legazpi Stage 3 Sunday, had a crash in the final 40 kms in Sorsogon and was nearly hit by the team car of Oliver’s Real Food Racing of Australia, which instead sideswiped a Filipino marshal.
Both suffered wounds and bruises.
There were, however, no changes in the top 10 as Aussie Angus Lyons of Oliver’s Real Food Racing of Australia kept his place at third in 17:04:57 and Eritrean Daniel Habtemichael of 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Roadbike Philippines stayed at fourth in 17:05:32.
Marcelo Felipe also of 7Eleven remained as the top Filipino rider at No. 10 in 17:05:55.
Rounding up the top 10 were PGN Road Cycling Team’s Sandy Nur Hasan (17:05:44) and Aiman Cahyadi (17:05:51), Team Ukyo’s Kohei Yokotsuka (17:05:51) and Naoya Yoshioka (17:05:53) and Team Sapura Cycling’s Muhsin Al Redha Misbah (17:05:54).
In the team race, Team Ukyo stuck to No. 1 with a total clocking of 51:15:11 followed by Taiyuan Miogee Cycling Team at second with 51:18:12 and PGN Road Cycling Team of Indonesia at third with 51:18:48.
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