SAN PABLO CITY, Laguna , Philippines – Feng Chun Kai of Taiwan’s Team Gusto outsprinted Nelson Martin of Roadbike in a mad scramble to the finish to snare lap victory in a crash-marred Stage Three of the Ronda Pilipinas International 2014 in this crowded city here yesterday.
Feng, 25, poured it all out in the last three kilometers and beat four others in a thrilling finish, including Martin in the last 1,000 meters to post his first stage triumph in a multi-stage event with a clocking of three hours, 27 minutes and 48 seconds.
Martin came in two seconds later in 3:27.50 while PLDT-Maynilad’s Rustom Lim checked in at third in 3:28.13, the same time posted by Army’s Marvin Tapic and Spaniard Edgard Nieto of Roadbike.
“I’m happy with the win because this is my first,” said Feng, a national champion back home.
Navy sprinter Jan Paul Morales and Malaysians Mohn Ekbar Zamanhuri and Amirul Anuar Zafri crashed into each other 25 meters before the finish, marring the 144.4-km race that started smoothly in Alfonso, Cavite.
The spill was a big blow to Zamanhuri’s bid as the Malaysian was among the nine-man group that broke away in the early going although he slowed down in the downhill stretch of the Cuenca ascent.
Cris Joven of 7-Eleven, who ruled the Muntinlupa-Silang Stage Two the day before, kept the red jersey, symbolic of the overall lead, despite getting stuck in the main group.
At the end of the day, the 27-year-old Joven assembled a three-day clocking of 10:36.27, holding sway against Cycleline-Butuan Mindanao’s Reimon Lapaza and Frenchman Peter Pouly of Infinite-Singha, who remained at Nos. 2 and 3 with times of 10:36.29 and 10:38.02, respectively.
“I did my best to get out of it but I didn’t get my chance,” said Joven, from Iriga City who is a consistent top 10 finisher in this annual race presented by LBC, the largest courier and cargo company, in Filipino.
It was a scintillating performance by Feng, who managed to stay with the lead pack even in the Category 3 climb in Calaca, Batangas before going on an attack mode in the final stretch when the lead group was reduced to five.
Feng later said he wasn’t even in top shape.
“I couldn’t train fully because it was so cold in my country,” said Feng.
Second edition Ronda champion and Myanmar Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Mark Galedo of 7-Eleven and first Ronda king Santy Barnachea of Navy-Standard Insurance stayed within striking distance of the leaders as they remained at seventh and eighth overall with 10:40.20 and 10:40.56 clockings, respectively.
Last year’s Ronda winner Irish Valenzuela of Army also stayed in the hunt at No. 14.
Cycleline-Butuan Mindanao kept its grip of the team overall lead with 31:57.33, thanks to the heroics of Lapaza, Vicmar Vicente and Merculio Ramos, who joined the lead pack but faded in the final 30-km stretch in Malvar, Batangas.
7-Eleven remained at No. 2 with clocking of 31:58.12 and Navy-Standard at No. 3 in 32:06.49.
Aside from Joven, also the Best Filipino rider, the other category leaders are Lapaza (sprint), Pouly (KOM) and PLDT-Maynilad’s Ronald Oranza (Young rider).
This 14-stage event is presented by LBC and sponsored MVP Sports Foundation, Petron, NLEX, Maynilad, PLDT and Mitsubishi, Versa 2 Way Radio and Standard Insurance and minor sponsor Air Asia Zest, sanctioned by PhilCycling and backed by Shimano and Cannondale bikes, the Department of Tourism and Phl National Police chief Allan Purisima.