LAPU LAPU CITY, Cebu, Philippines – The surviving 92 riders hope to make the most of the two-day break as they brace for a pair of tough climbs here beginning with Stage Four of the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2013 tomorrow which features one Category 3 and two Category 4 climbs.
Rudy Roque, who surprised the field with an impressive run in ruling the Pagadian-Iligan race at the close of the Mindanao stage Monday, will be the marked rider in the 134.2-km lap which will put in focus the field’s climbing skills and endurance. Two more tough Category 4 climbs will further test the field's strength Friday’s Stage Five, a 156-km race that will start at Lapu Lapu City Hall and end on top of a mountain at the Mountain View Natures Park in Brgy. Busay.
"I hope to come up with strong efforts in Cebu so I can prove my worth," said the 21-year-old Roque of LPGMA-American Vinyl team, who upstaged his noted teammates Irish Valenzuela and Cris Joven in Iligan to jump from 11th to third overall behind Santy Barnachea of Navy Standard and Tomas Martinez of Team Tarlac.
"It will be a struggle in the next few days not just for me but also the rest of us," said Roque, who has piled up a total clocking of nine hours, 57 minutes, 13 seconds to move behind Barnachea (9:54:19) and Martinez (9:56.20).
"The race starts here in Cebu," said Barnachea, one of the fancied riders in the annual event sponsored by LBC Express, Inc., the country's leading courier firm.
So impressive was Roque’s performance in Mindanao that he bested his veteran teammates in Valenzuela and Joven, who are at fifth and ninth places with clockings of 9:57.20 and 9:57.54, respectively.
Even LPGMA-American Vinyl coach Renato Dolosa said he's quite impressed with the hardworking Roque.
"The kid (Roque) is tough, determined and very hardworking, I can't say anything else about him," said Dolosa, a former two-time Tour champion.
At fourth overall is Roadbike PH's Ronald Gorantes (9:57.19) while rounding up the top 10 are Smart's Joel Calderon (9:57.28), Navy-Standard's George Oconer (9:57.35), Smart's Marcelo Felipe (9:57.38) and Hundred Islands-Pangasinan's Reynalde Navarro (9:57.57).
Leading the team race is Navy-Standard, which has a time of 29:46.46, followed by Smart (29:50.05), Roadbike Phls (29:52.09), LPGMA-American Vinyl (29:52.50), Team Tarlac (29:57.46) and Y101 FM-Cebu (30:00.00).
Roadbike PH's Mark Galedo, the reigning champion, is currently at No. 17 with a time of 9:59.22, five minutes off the pace but is expected to make his move beginning today.
"We'll try again in the next stages," he said.
The other backers of the event are Total, the MVP Sports Foundation, Jinbei Auto, Smart, Icom iDAS, Standard Insurance, Maynilad and NLEX.
The LBC Express, Inc. and LBC Foundation, meanwhile, will hold a coastal clean-up of both Mactan and Lapu Lapu shores today as part of its corporate social responsibility program headed by Nena Wuthridge.