Legazpi City, Albay—Australian rider Samuel Hill claimed his first ever lap victory in Stage Three but overall leader Dutch Jeroen Meijers of Taiyuan Miogee Cycling Team of China clung to the Air21 purple jersey in the 10th Le Tour de Filipinas yesterday.
Hill took charge along a winding downhill portion of Rizal Street 10 kilometers from the finish line.
Coming out of 49th place following a spill in Stage 2 last Saturday, the 23-year-old Hill chased down two Filipino riders to take the stage 3 honors of the Le Tour de Filipinas cycling competitions here.
The 6’2” Hill, who is riding for Nero Bianchi of Australia, reached the finish line in front of a Jollibee outlet in four hours, 33 minutes and 12 seconds, with Filipino riders Dominic Perez and Mark Galedo settling for second and third.
“I had a puncture yesterday. So I could not continue with the breakaway after that. I could not feel possibly better today. It’s just the best feeling ever because yesterday was such a bad day,” said Hill at the end of the 183.7 kilometer chase from the Bagasbas Beach in Daet, Camarines Norte, which is considered as one of the best surfing destinations in the country.
Hill, who has never had a first place finish since turning pro six years ago, was going for a podium finish in stage 2 while with a four-man breakaway group composed of German rider Mario Vogt, Singaporean Goh Choon Huat and Japanese Kohei Uchima.
But he fell behind when his tire blew 500 meters from the finish line. Hill eventually settled for a 49th place finish.
Perez and Galedo, riding for Team 711 and Team Celeste Cycles respectively, were suffering from cramps when they got caught by Hill’s attack.
The 24-year-old Perez, who is from Sto. Tomas, Pangasinan, was 51 seconds behind Hill, while Galedo trailed by 54 seconds.
“Nag try kaming humabol. Kaso, matulin,” said Perez.
Angus Lyons of Team Oliver Foods of Australia checked at fourth place and was 1 minute and 49 seconds behind.
Galedo and Perez were with Hill when they led at five-man breakaway group in the first 10 kilometer out of Bagasbas Beach in Daet.
It was in the last 12 kilometers, when Perez and Galedo turned right into Rizal Street when they started feeling tired slowed down.
Stage 2 winner Mario Vogt and Filipino rider Jan Paul Morales joined a 26-man group that arrived some 1:54 behind Hill.
The five-man group, made up of Galedo, Perez, Hill, PGN Indonesia’s Rachmad Wibisono, 711’s Natnael Mebrahtom and Team Sapura’s Mohammad Mohd Shukri went for the lead as they headed for the Barangay Tauaca in Basud, Camarines Norte, some 16 kilometers out of Bagasbas Beach.
Shukri and Wibisono were no longer around when the three sprint stages were over at the Daan Maharlika Road in Polangui, with 36.3 km to go, and in a stretch of asphalt, which had the majestic, cloud-coveted Mayon Volcano seen at the northeast portion of the road.
The 26-year-old Meijers, who retained the lead, was with the 26-man peloton and checked in at 34th position. He is 45 seconds in front of his closest rival, Goh, who is in 31st place.
Lyon, who is 1:38 behind is fourth, followed by 711’s Daniel Habtemichael(2:18) and Marcelo Felipe, in fifth and behind by 2:36.
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