Tour leaders out to maintain posts

By Joey Villar, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 12 2014 09:03 AM | Updated as of Feb 12 2014 05:03 PM

BAGUIO, Philippines – Pacesetters Mark Galedo of 7-Eleven, Reimon Lapaza of Cycleline-Butuan Mindanao and Frenchman Peter Pouly of Infinite-Singha are expected to cling on to their respective posts as action in the Ronda Pilipinas International 2014 resumes today with the 88.5km Stage 10 criterium starting and ending at Burnham Park here.

Galedo, 28, has thwarted his challengers since seizing the lead in the Lucena-Antipolo Stage Six, putting on a series of gutsy runs to remain on top with an aggregate time 32-hour, 23-minute and four-second clocking, a minute and 12 seconds ahead of Lapaza and three minutes and 42 seconds over a charging Pouly.

Lapaza, 28, remained at second with a 32:24:16 clocking while Pouly, 36, topped the tough Dagupan-Baguio leg to jump from No. 8 to third with 32:26:46.

Today’s lap will loop around this cool, breezy mountaintop city through Veteran’s Loop, Lake Drive, Gov. Pack Road, Kisad, J. Abad Santos, Shanum St., and back to Harrison road in Burnham Park.

But action is expected to heat up tomorrow – a 95.8-km La Union-Baguio Stage 11 featuring steep ascent in Marcos Highway, considered as tougher than the Kennon Road in Stage Nine.

First Ronda king Santy Barnachea of Navy-Standard and reigning champion Irish Valenzuela of Army are also expected to make their respective moves with the former at No. 6 with 32:28:59 and the latter at No. 10 with 32:33:55, respectively.

Roadbike’s Marcelo Felipe (2:59:32), Navy-Standard’s George Oconer (32:28:59), PLDT-Maynilad’s Ronald Oranza (32:30:45), 7-Eleven’s Mark Julius Bordeos (32:30:45) and PLDT-Maynilad’s Rustom Lim (32:32:46) are the other riders in the Top 10 heading to the final stretch of the annual bikathon.

But Pouly looms as the bigger threat after posting an emphatic victory in Monday’s Stage Nine where he conquered the steep, razor-sharp curves of Kennon Road.

“I will have to be more watchful of him in the last five stages, he’s a big threat,” said Galedo of Pouly in Pilipino.

7-Eleven and Roadbike manager Bong Sual also picks Pouly as the rider to watch in the closing stages.

“If they don’t watch out, this Peter Pouly could overtake him. I mean, he has climbed his way back from being 12 minutes behind Mark (Galedo) to just three minutes now. That’s impressive if you’ll ask me,” said Sual, whose 7-Eleven squad leads the team race in 97:23:50, ahead of Navy-Standard’s 97:25:12 and PLDT-Maynilad’s 97:26:52.

Pouly, for his part, said his focus is on the King of the Mountain title due to lack of team support in his pursuit for individual glory as his original five-man team was reduced to three following withdrawals by Laotian SEA Games gold medallist Ariya Phounsavath and Canadian Nicolas Magnan.

“I will be happy to just win the KOM race because we’re only three in the team now,” said Pouly, who has 51 KOM points against closest pursuers Lim (34) and Galedo (33).

Pouly, however, said if given the chance, he will not hesitate to cash in on it.

“If given the chance, why not,” said Pouly.