ALAMINOS, Pangasinan, Philippines – One day after he nearly gave up his Ronda Pilipinas campaign to help boost a teammate’s bid, Rustom Lim took the spotlight and led the young PLDT-Spyder team’s assault in Stage Eight that started in Olongapo and ended here yesterday.
Spearheading the breakaway group that included teammates Ronald Or1anza, Jemico Brioso and Mark Bonzo and 16 others in the last 40 kms., Lim launched a daring sprint attack 20 kms later. With no one able to match his searing pace, the sophomore rider slowed down in the last 50 meters and proudly held his white and blue shirt before raising both arms in triumph before a big roaring crowd.
“I just couldn’t control myself, I’m just really happy winning my first lap in Ronda,” said Lim, member of the LPGMA-American Vinyl squad that finished second overall in the team race last year, in Filipino.
Interestingly, Lim’s first career lap win came a day after he almost sacrificed his campaign for a teammate.
After learning that El Joshua Carino, then running second overall heading to the Tarlac-Subic Stage Seven, reeled to last place after suffering a flat rear tire, Lim willingly slowed down and waited for the former – not just to guide him back but also to give up his bike, and practically the race.
Though the 19-year-old Carino dropped to No. 6, he remained in the title hunt, thanks to Lim’s unselfish act and teammanship.
Now, given a chance to shine, Lim seized the moment.
“I’m really ready to give up my bike or anything for a teammate because he (Carino) is more important to the team than myself,” said Lim. “But I’m thankful that we both finished that lap and stayed in the race and I got to win now (yesterday).”
The 23-year-old Bonzo, son of 1983 Marlboro Tour champion Romeo and nephew of 1976 Tour of Luzon winner Modesto who hails from Sual, was met by his family, friends and folks at the finish line.
“I’m glad to do well in my province, seeing my family and friends,” said Bonzo, who is skippering a PLDT-Spyder team that is composed of the national under-23 squad bankrolled by LBC Express, Inc. president Fernando Araneta.
The 20-year-old Oranza, the Stage Seven winner, finished in the 30-man group that wound up sixth in the lap in 4:18.01 to slice 31 seconds off the pacesetting Irish Valenzuela’s 1.48-minute lead the previous day.
The 25-year-old Valenzuela ended up in the 46-cyclist peloton that checked in last in 4:18.32 but still hung on to the overall lead with an aggregate time of 29:58.47, or just 1.08 minutes ahead of Oranza.
But Valenzuela, seeking his first major title here after losing to Mark Galedo of Roadbike Phl, knows the road to glory gets tougher by the day.
“It gets harder and harder every day, I have to really watch out,” said Valenzuela, a proud son of Tobaco Albay who was the 2008 LPGMA Manila-Baguio champion and the back-to-back King of the Mountain winner of the Ronda’s first two stagings.
Valenzuela’s LPGMA-American Vinyl teammate, Cris Joven, was with the Oranza group to remain at No. 3 in 30:01.38 ahead of Ronald Gorantes of Roadbike Phl (30:01.51), Santy Barnachea of Navy-Standard (30:02.54) and PLDT-Spyder’s El Joshua Carino (30:06.20).
VMobile-Smart’s Joel Calderon (30:08.13), Y101 FM-Cebu’s Marvin Tapic (30:11.55) and reigning titlist Mark Galedo of Roadbike Phl (30:12.26) were at Nos. 7, 8 and 9, respectively, while Ramos (30:13.30) bumped off Team Tarlac teammate Tomas Martinez from No. 10.
PLDT-Spyder also gained in team competition as it now trails leader LPGMA-American Vinyl, which has a total time of 90:19.07, by just 56 seconds from 1.48 minutes the day before with a total clocking of 90:20.03.
The Ronda, which is sponsored by LBC Express, Inc., the country’s leading courier firm, and backed by Total, the MVP Sports Foundation, Jinbei Auto, Smart, Icom iDAS, Standard Insurance, Maynilad and NLEX, will take a one-day break today before resuming tomorrow with the 193.9-km Mangaldan-Vigan Stage Nine.