Flying Frenchman soars to No. 3

By Joey Villar, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 11 2014 08:58 AM | Updated as of Feb 11 2014 04:58 PM

BAGUIO , Philippines – Frenchman Peter Pouly flashed superb climbing skills to rule the toughest leg in Ronda Pilipinas International 2014 thus far, chopping off a couple of minutes off Mark Galedo’s lead in Stage Nine of the Ronda Pilipinas International 2014 that fired off in Dagupan, Pangasinan and ended at the Baguio Convention Center here yesterday.

Pouly, of Infinite-Singha, conquered the steep ascents of Kennon Road to top the 102.1-kilometer lap in two hours, 56 minutes and 46 seconds for his first stage triumph that moved him from No. 8 to No. 3 in the overall individual race.

With an aggregate clocking of 32:26:46, Pouly closed in on Galedo, who held on to the overall lead with a gutsy joint third place finish with PLDT-Maynilad’s Junrey Navarra in 2:58:30 for a total clocking of 32:23:04.

Reimon Lapaza of Cyceline-Butuan Mindanao remained in second but fell farther back 1:12 minutes behind Galedo after starting the day just 14 seconds adrift.

Galedo, however, said he’s a bit more wary over fending off the charging Pouly than Lapaza.

“I will need to race intelligently and stay a little bit more alert against him (Pouly),” said the 28-year-old Galedo, who received a bonus of P25,000 from 7-Eleven manager Bong Sual for retaining the red jersey in Pilipino.

What makes Pouly’s surge impressive is that he’s practically doing it alone following the withdrawals of two other teammates, leaving only two in Morgan Siffointe and Vincent Ching Yong as his backups.

“I have no more team so I will be contented to just win a stage or two and the King of the Mountain title,” said Pouly, who brought along wife Kate of Thailand where they are currently based.

PLDT-Maynilad Rustom Lim drove past Galedo in the final stretch to snatch runner-up lap honors in 2:58:36 as he barged into the Top 10 at No. 9 with 32:32:46.

Army’s Irish Valenzuela, the reigning Ronda champion, finished 11th in the stage to move a rung better with a time of 32:33:55.

Roadbike’s Marcelo Felipe is in fourth overall with a 32:27:58 clocking followed by Navy-Standard Insurance’s George Oconer (32:28:59) and Santy Barnachea (32:28:59), PLDT-Maynilad’s Ronald Oranza (32:30:09) and 7-Eleven’s Mark Julius Bordeos (32:30:45).

Pouly’s triumph also hiked his King of the Mountain total to 51 points, or 17 ahead of Lim, who had 34 and Galedo, who amassed 33 points.

7-Eleven, meanwhile, also retains the lead in team competition with 97:23:50 with Navy-Standard closing in with 97:25:12 and PLDT-Maynilad moving to third with 97:26:52.

Ronda takes a much-needed rest today with action heating up with the 88.5-km Baguio City criterium Wednesday.

This 14-stage event is presented by LBC, the largest courier and cargo company, sponsored MVP Sports Foundation, Petron, NLEX, Maynilad, PLDT and Mitsubishi, Versa 2 Way Radio and Standard Insurance and minor sponsor Air Asia Zest and C! Magazine, sanctioned by PhilCycling and backed by Shimano Cannondale bikes, the Department of Tourism and Phl National Police chief Allan Purisima.