TARLAC CITY, Philippines – Mark Galedo of 7-Eleven and Reimon Lapaza of Cycleline-Butuan Mindanao stuck to each other like leeches and stayed on their lofty perch even as an all-foriegner podium finish headed by Korean Im Jae Yeon of Uijeongbu ruled Stage Seven of the Ronda Pilipinas International 2014 yesterday.
Galedo and Lapaza were part of the pack that registered the annual bikathon’s first mass finish with identical clockings of four hours, 52 seconds to cling into the overall individual lead with total times of 24:49:26 and 24:49:40 – a mere 14 seconds separating them.
Both Galedo and Lapaza, who zoomed to the top after Friday’s Lucena-Antipolo Stage Six, said the Stage Seven result is expected.
“We know if we just stayed watchful of possible attacks, we’ll do okay in this stage and we did just that,” said the 28-year-old Galedo, the second edition titlist and reigning Southeast Asian Games gold medalist in Myanmar.
“I’m just happy to stick close to him,” said Lapaza, a 28-year-old proud son of Butuan City, referring to Galedo.
Im, 22, outsprinted the Taiwanese pair of Hsiao Shih Hsin of Team Gusto in another frenetic windup to become the fifth foreigner to rule a stage.
Kiwi Jason Christie of CCN and Feng Chun Kai of Team Gusto each won a couple of stages going into this lap.
Mark Julius Bordeos of 7-Eleven and ex-red jersey wearer and first Ronda king Santy Barnachea of Navy-Standard Insurance remained at Nos. 3 and 4 with times of 24:51:52 and 24:52:34, but they lost some precious seconds to Galedo.
From 2:19 and 3:01 minutes behind before the stage, Bordeos and Barnachea are now 2:26 and 3:08 off the pace.
There were also no major changes in the order of things except for one--Army’s Reynaldo Navarro, who overtook Cebu-Kalit Air Force’s Oscar Rindole at No. 10 in 24:57:01.
The rest – Roadbike’s Marcelo Felipe (24:53:22), PLDT-Maynilad’s Ronald Oranza (24:54:11), Navy-Standard’s George Oconer (24:54:21), Frencham Peter Pouly of Infinite-Singha (24:55:06) and Cycleline-Butuan Mindanao’s Vicmar Vicente (24:56:18) – stayed in their old positions.
7-Eleven also kept its overall lead in the team race in 74:33:50 ahead of Navy-Standard’s 74:39:56 and Cycleline’s 74:42:36.