DAGUPAN, Pangasinan , Philippines – Overall leader Mark Galedo of 7-Eleven put on a strong windup to check in at second behind lap winner Jason Christie of CCN yesterday here as he primed up for the crucial Baguio stages in Ronda Pilipinas International 2014.
Galedo finished with the huge group that came in behind Christie, who relied on a big push in the final stretch to nail his third lap victory. The 23-year-old Kiwi clocked four hours, 34 minutes, 42 seconds or 22 seconds ahead of the pack that included Galedo, the second Ronda champion and Southeast Asian Games gold medalist.
It was the third stage win posted by the Kiwi, the reigning sprint champion back home in New Zealand, who topped the Quezon City criterium in Stage One and ruled the Lucena-Antipolo Stage Six.
“I’m just looking to win laps and warming up for the Tour de Langkawi late this month,” said Christie.
Rustom Lim of PLDT-Maynilad took the runner-up lap honors while Taiwanese Hsiaoh Shih Hsin placed third with identical times of 4:35:04, the same clocking posted by the rest of the riders in top 10 overall.
After eight stages, Galedo stayed at No. 1 with an aggregate clocking of 29:24:30, 14 seconds ahead of Reimon Lapaza of Cycleline-Butuan Mindanao (29:24:44).
Two minutes, 26 seconds adrift at No. 3 was Mark Julius Bordeos of 7-Eleven with 29:26:56 followed by first Ronda winner Santy Barnachea of Navy-Standard Insurance at No. 4 with 29:27:38 and Marcelo Felipe of Roadbike Phl at No. 5 with 29:28:26.
Completing the top 10 were PLDT-Maynilad’s Ronald Oranza (29:29:15), Navy-Standard’s George Oconer (29:29:24), Infinite-Singha’s French skipper Peter Pouly (29:30:10), Cebu-Kalit Air Force’s Vicmar Vicente (29:31:22) and Army’s Reynaldo Navarro (29:32:05).
But for the contenders, the battle for Tour supremacy only starts today.
After eight stages and a total distance of 1,200.2 kilometers of flat roads and medium-level ascents, the 14-stage race goes to the dreaded mountains of Baguio starting with a 102.1-km Stage Nine that will be highlighted by two King of the Mountain laps including a Hors Category climb at Kennon Road.
An 88.5-km Baguio criterium around the Pines City will be held tomorrow before participants brace for another steep climb on Wednesday’s 95.8-km Stage 11 where they will start in San Fernando, La Union, negotiate another Hors Category ascent, this time at the Marcos Highway, and end at Green Valley Hotel.
“The real race unfolds tomorrow (Monday),” said Galedo, a noted mountain-climber who will be put to a test not just by the local challengers but also the foreigners headed by the fancied Pouly.
“We’ll know who deserves to be in the Top 10 in the Baguio stages, it’s going to make or break for us,” said Lapaza, a 28-year-old Butuan City native who has been making waves this year after getting buried under the blanket of obscurity in the first three stagings.