Short and punchy, today’s 103.3 kilometer second stage was done and dusted in a touch over two and a half hours. Having turned 37 at the beginning of the week, Veteran Filipino cyclist Arnel Quirimit, the 2003 winner of Tour de Filipinas precursor ‘Tour Pilipinas’, belatedly celebrated his birthday in emphatic style.
As expected from such a short stage, attacks resumed from kilometer zero. Kenichi Suzuki (Aisan Racing Team) and Hamid Shirisisan (Uzbekistan Suren Team) quickly built a lead of almost two minutes on the peloton, before being caught by a six-man break consisting of stage-winner Quirimit (GO21), Ristom Lim (American Vinyl LPGMA), Sea Keong Loh (OCBC Singapore Cycling Team), Timo Scholz (CCN Cycling Team), Joel Calderon (Mail and More) and Alex Malone (Plan B Racing).
With their key men up the road, Plan B Racing and OCBC Singapore Cycling Team positioned themselves at the front of the main bunch with an eye to control any counter-moves. OCBC’s Nick Squillari takes up the story from here:
It was a pretty tough beginning; I’m never complaining about the roads in Australia again! First, we were sent over a bridge that had road works on it. There were cement-filled paint cans with broomsticks – for want of a better word – poking up out of the cans and these were the road markers. The bunch somehow managed to get through that, then we came up to a whole heap of road works with massive holes. It looked like Paris-Roubaix!
With the GC guys up the road, there was better order in the bunch today. It was also a lot calmer because more Sports Directors were driving the cars. Yesterday, each car was assigned with a local driver, and there were quite a few debates about who was driving. Apparently, yesterday was like dodgem cars.
There was a fight in the bunch today between a couple of Filipino teams! One guy was swerving around in the bunch trying to run the other guy off his bike and all the Filipino’s around him were in a massive uproar. I’m not sure what was going on, but some strong words were traded. I would definitely say the local riders are underestimated, given they’ve walked away with two stages so far. It really makes a mockery of the government not putting their sport in the top 10. They’ve got some talent here.
I heard the (eight-man) break wasn’t going quite as smoothly as it could have. The bunch was happy for us to sit on the front until 35km to go, then they started pushing the pace up a bit but the break was well away. A few local riders (from Mail and More, GO21 and American Vinyl LPGMA) shot off at the end, within the final two kilometres.
Sea Keong (OCBC, third in GC) has got fabulous legs; his form has come along really great. Everything’s going to be focused on him tomorrow. I think the climbs will suit him. Having four guys (in the OCBC team) makes it just a bit tougher. There’s one less guy to get bottles, or help on the front. We just have to make friends, like with the guys from Plan B, who have the same interests.
I was talking to one of the CCN boys. (GC leader) Timo (Scholz), might be able to hang onto the jersey tomorrow, but they (CCN) expect him to give it up on stage four. That means it could play out between Alex (Malone) and Sea Keong; I can’t see them losing a lot of time.
73 starters will line up for tomorrow’s 102.52km third stage, from Cauayan City to Bayombong N.V. It begins with a flat 40 kilometers, after which elevation gradually builds, leading into twin climbs at 70km and 80km, respectively. Opportunistic riders with no skin in the GC game should seek to go clear, especially as their legs will be severely tested in the following, and final, “northern alps” stage to Baguio City.
STAGE 2 RESULTS
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 2
FINISHED OUTSIDE TIME LIMIT
1. Hamed Pasbankhajeh (Uzbekistan Suren Team)
2. Irman Firmansyah (Colossi Miche Racing Team)
1. Arnel Quirimit (GO21) 14pts
2. Timo Scholz (CCN Cycling Team) 11pts
3. Oscar Rendole (Mail and More) 10pts
1. Rudy Roque (American Vinyl LPGMA) 6:20:10
2. James Williamson (PureBlack Racing) 6:20:10
3. Azamat Turaev (Uzbekistan Suren Team) 6:20:28
1. Mail and More
2. American Vinyl LPGMA
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