DAET, Camarines Norte—Kazakh rider Oleg Zemlyakov conquered the feared, steep “Tatlong Eme” climbs along Quezon national park and still had enough energy on his tank to make a final dash to the finish at the close of the second stage of the 2016 Le Tour de Filipinas here.
The 22-year-old Zemlyakov arrived at the Vinzons Ave. finish line in five hours, eight minutes and 48 seconds to take stage honors.
Zemlyakov, who was set to clinch the first of two sprint honors when the first half of stage 1 before it was stopped because of heavy traffic due to road repairs in the final stages of the route, arrived 18 seconds ahead of teammate Yevgeni Gidich to make it a 1-2 finish for Kazakhstan.
The Kazakhs’ dominance on the second day came amid a mishap that took place midway in the race when Australian team Oliver’s Real Food Racing’s equipment van crashed into a tree as it passed a downhill road along Labo West in Camarines Norte.
This driver was not hurt in the accident. A day earlier in San Pablo City, the same van was bumped by a cargo truck.
With his stage win, Zemlyakov, a native of Petropavl, North Kazakhstan, earned his first ever yellow jersey in a race, after taking his first King of the Mountain honors for his showing in Quezon National Park.
Gidich and Zemlyakov of Vino 4ever SKO, made their move in the final five kilometers while negotiating the flat roads of Talisay, leaving behind Jesse James Ewart, an Australian attached to local favorite 7-Eleven Sava Roadbike Philippines who eventually settled for third.
Ewart arrived with a three-man group with Gidich and Terranganu’s Batmunkh Maral-Erdene.
“This is the first international race that the I have won. I am happy,” said Zemlyakov in halting English, after arriving in Daet town, best known for the surfing waves in nearby Bagasbas beach.
The Kazakhs rode aggressively from the start, leading a six-man charge in negotiating the Tatlong Eme located at the heart of the Quezon national park in Atimonan with local riders Rommel Hualda, Jay Lampawog and John Mark Camingao hot on his heels.
It was a tiring pace, but Zemlyakov hung on and stayed in front of a 12-man group when he took on a northeasterly route and reached the 132-km mark in Calauag, Quezon.
Filipino bet Marcelo Felipe, who finished sixth, kept within sight of the two Kazakhs until the last 15 kilometers into Talisay.
But faced with rough roads still being repaired in Sta. Elena, Felipe hung back and let Ewart continue the chase against the Kazakhs.
At this juncture, however, Zemlyakav finally merged with Gidich, who never left his side in the last 10 kilometers.
Ewart said he still happy with his third-place finish.
Marcelo, however, said he did not have strength left to keep with the Kazakhs in the final stretch.
“Naubos na. Hindi na naming kayang dikitan ‘yung isa,” said Marcelo.
After the second stage, Kazakh team Vino 4ever SKO emerged as team to beat, with team 7-Eleven at second, followed by Terranganu of Malaysia and the Bridgestone team of Japan.