SILANG, Cavite , Philippines – Cris Joven bested Reimon Lapaza of Davao City and Frenchman Peter Pouly to post his first lap win in two years in the 181.8-km Stage Two of the Ronda Pilipinas International 2014 that started in Muntinlupa City and ended at the Premier Plaza Mall along Emilio Aguinaldo Highway here yesterday.
Joven, who racked up four lap victories in the event’s first two stagings but had a winless campaign last year, bucked the odds and roared to victory in four hours, 58 minutes, 46 seconds to wrest the early overall lead with a total time of 6:67:37.
“This is special for me because I failed to win a lap last year,” said the 27-year-old Joven, who had one runner-up and a pair of third place finishes last year, in Pilipino.
The Iriga City native also said he’s ready to go all the way.
“I’m going to be a hypocrite if I say I don’t want this (leader’s jersey). But the truth is, I’ve been wanting to win it all and I’ve prepared hard this year and will try to go for it,” said Joven, who won P50,000 from host Silang Mayor Emilia Lourdes Poblete.
Lapaza, meanwhile, turned in his best finish to date by clocking 4:59:14 for second as he likewise took the No. 2 spot in the overall standing, just four seconds behind Joven with 6:67:41.
“I blew my chance of making the top three yesterday (Saturday) so I did my best not to lose this again,” said the 25-year-old Lapaza, whose fifth place finish in the Quezon City Memorial Circle Stage One criterium also surpassed his previous efforts in the first three editions where he finished no better than sixth place.
Pouly, skipper of Infinite-Singha, checked in at third in 4:59:48 but topped both the climbs to emerge as the new King of the Mountain leader.
“It was a tough stage, just glad I survived it,” said Pouly, who towed Joven and Lapaza in the breakaway group in the ascent before the local bets outsprinted him in the final stretch.
Daiki Yasuhara of Japan’s Matrix Powertag placed fourth in 5:02:40, followed by Ronald Oranza of PLDT Maynilad (5:02:49), Merculio Ramos of Cycline-Butuan Mindanao (5:02:49), Joel Calderon of Navy-Standard Insurance and Oscare Rindole of Cebu-Kalit Air Force (5:02:51).
Santy Barnachea of Navy-Standard and Irish Valenzuela of Army, the first and third editions champions, wound up at Nos. 9 and 10 in 5:02:54 and 5:03:56, respectively.
Interestingly, the top 10 placers in yesterday’s stage also comprised the top 10 in the overall leaderboard.