MANILA, Philippines – Thirty-six year old Arneo Quirimit, the winner of the 2003 Tour Pilipinas, made an excellent account of himself last Sunday when he won Stage Two of the 2012 Le Tour de Filipinas in Cauayan City, Isabela.
Quirimit’s Stage Two victory makes it a back-to-back Filipino triumph in the opening stages in the Union Cycliste Internationale race.
Quirimit, assistant skipper of Team Go21, clocked in at two hours, 33 minutes and 46 seconds in the 109-km stage that started in Tuguegarao City and finished in front of the Isabela State University campus in Cauayan City.
He became the second Filipino to top the Le Tour after Mail and More’s Oscar Rendole also topped Stage One of the bike race.
“I poured it all in the last hundred meters, and I’m thankful that God gave me another chance to win a stage,” said Quirimit, an Army staff sergeant.
Quirimit got the better end of an eight-rider spring finish that also saw a young and promising Filipino youngster, Rustom Lim, rise to the occasion.
Lim, riding for LPGMA-American Vinyl, actually had his bike’s front wheel reeling in front of the sprint, but yielded his youth to the older protagonists.
Nevertheless, Lim checked in with the same time as Quirimit to make it a 1-2 finish for the Filipino riders.
The Filipinos’ domination of the tight finish shoved German Timo Scholz of CCN Cycling Team to third on the podium.
Also figuring in the sprint were 2009 Padyak Pinoy champion Joel Calderon of Mail and More and Australian Alexander Malone of Plan B Racing Team.
Scholz, who has seen the best and the worst in racing in his numerous stints in Europe and Asia, stripped Rendol of the yellow jersey. The 39-year-old Scholz – the oldest participant in the 2012 Le Tour – admitted he would just probably enjoy wearing the coveted jersey in Monday’s 104-km Stage Three to Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.
“I’m used to riding in hot weather, but for a European like me, this is too hot,” said Scholz, whose two-stage total of 6:18:18 gave him a slim 26-second advantage over Malone in the individual general classification.
Singaporean Sea Keong Loh was third, 35 seconds behind Scholz in the general classification, followed by Rendole (1:06), Dutch koos Jeroen Kers (1:46), Rudy Roque (1:52), and New Zealand’s James Williamson (1:52).
Uzbekistan’s Azamat Turaev (2:10), Baler Ravina of Go21 (2:11), Indonesia Rastra Patria (2:14), Quiri,it (3:25), Lim (3:39), Uzbekistan’s Hamed Shirisisan (3:42) and Calderon completed the top 10 after the second day of the race.
Rendole was hell bent on defending the yellow jersey but was unable to keep pace with Quirmit and company, which made a daring breakaway in the final 60-km of the stage.
Stage Two was raced over a relatively flat course, with a mild climb and another extremely humid temperature. Rendole eventually finished the day at 14th place, in the company of former local Tour champion Santy Barnachea and Rey Martin.
In the team general classification, Rendole’s Mail and More kept the lead (19:04:37), followed by American Vinyl/LPGMA (0:14) and Go21 (1:05).