MANILA, Philippines - CCN Continental Team’s Jason Christie made his intention felt early as he dominated the 66-kilometer criterium of the opening stage of the Ronda Pilipinas International 2014 around the Quezon City Memorial Circle yesterday.
Fresh from reigning supreme in the New Zealand Championships back home, the 23-year-old Christie clocked two hours, seven minutes, 46 seconds to win the stage 10 seconds ahead of closest pursuer Oscar Rindole of Cebu-Kalit Air Force, who checked in with a time of 2:07:56.
Roadbike Phl’s Marcelo Felipe edged Navy-Standard Insurance’s George Oconer for a podium finish after the two both wound up with clockings of 2:08.25 apiece.
“It’s too early in the race to tell because we have 13 stages to go but I’m happy I won in my first race with CCN,” said Christie, who raised his two hands and blew kisses to the crowd right before entering the arc.
It was an emphatic performance for Christie as he also swept the two intermediate sprints including one when he came from nowhere to overtake Cycleline Butuan Mindanao’s Reimon Lapaza, who eventually ended up at No. 5 in 2:08:27.
Navy’s Lloyd Lucien Reynante originally finished second but he was penalized a minute after he erroneously returned in front instead of at the back after he got overlapped by the Christie-paced lead pack.
Reynante tried and failed to plead his case as he sank from No. 2 to somewhere in the bottom going into Stage Two.
Making a good impression was Cebu-Kalit Air Force’s Warren Davadilla, at 39 the second oldest participant in this 14-stage, 16-day race.
He came in at No. 6 in 2:08:29, besting the younger bets Vicmar Vicente of Cycleline Butuan Mindanao (2:08:29) and PLDT-Maynilad’s Rustom Lime (2:08:30).
Mark Galedo of 7-Eleven, Irish Valenzuela of Army and Santy Barnachea of Navy, the first three Ronda champions, just hung around the early leaders and finished at Nos. 9, 10 and 15 in 2:08:32, 2:08:46 and 2:09:04, respectively.
Thanks to the top 10 efforts of Rindole and Davadilla and a 12th place performance by Elmer Navarro (2:08:47), Cebu-Kalit Air Force seized the early overall team lead with a total time of 6:25.12.
Cycleline Butuan Mindanao was at No. 2 with 6:26:00 and CCN Continental Team at No. 3 with 6:26:36.
The race resumes today with the 181-8-km Stage Two starting in Muntinlupa City and ending in Silang City, Cavite. The lap will practically go around the whole of Cavite area and some parts of Batangas.