BAGUIO, Philippines - – Veteran Santy Barnachea and his Navy-Standard Insurance team upstaged current overall individual leader Mark Galedo and his 7-Eleven squad in Stage 10 Criterium here yesterday to grab the overall lead in team competition in the Ronda Pilipinas International 2014.
The 36-year-old Barnachea, the first Ronda champion, checked in first with the 19-man group in one-hour, 27 minutes, 32 seconds to lead the surge of Navy-Standard. He also gained in the individual race, moving from sixth to fourth
Korean Im Jae Yeon of Uijeongbu City ruled the stage that was cut to just 66 kilometers from the original 88.5km route due to traffic as he bested Navy-Standard’s Jan Paul Morales and Taiwanese Chen Chien Liang of Team Gusto and 16 others in a mad dash to the finish.
Galedo, the Southeast Asian Games gold medalist seeking his second Ronda crown, stayed with closest pursuers Reimon Lapaza of Cycleline-Butuan Mindanao and Frenchman Peter Pouly of Infinite-Singha in the peloton, finishing tied for second or 1.74 minute behind Barnachea and company to keep his red jersey on an aggregate time of 33:52:10.
Lapaza stayed at second with 33:53:22 or 1.12 minutes behind while Pouly, the King of the Mountain leader who topped the Dagupan-Baguio Stage 9 Monday, kept his spot at third with 33:55:52, a little less than four minutes off the pace.
Barnachea came in next with an aggregate clocking of 33:56:31.
Meanwhile, a major shakeup, both in the individual and team competitions, is expected in Stage 11 today as the field tackles the dreaded, punishing Marcos Highway from San Fernando, La Union to the Green Valley Hotel in Baguio City.
“This is going to be a make-or-break stage for us all because I consider Marcos Highway more difficult than Kennon Road in Stage Nine,” said the 28-year-old Galedo, trying to become the first two-time winner in this race presented by LBC, the country’s leading cargo and courier company.
But focus will be on Galedo and Pouly, two of the best mountain climbers in the fold.
“I’ll try my best again to win this stage and improve my chances of winning the King of the Mountain title even more,” said the 36-year-old Pouly, who has a total 51 KOM points, way ahead of Lim’s 34 and Galedo’s 33.
Others in the Top 10 are Roadbike Phl’s Marcelo Felipe (33:57:04), PLDT-Maynilad’s Ronald Oranza (33:57:41), Navy-Standard’s George Oconer (33:58:05), 7-Eleven’s Mark Julius Bordeos (33:59:51), PLDT-Maynilad’s Rustom Lim (34:00:17) and Army’s Irish Valenzuela (34:01:27).
While Galedo and the rest set their sights on the individual plum, Barnachea, who hails from Uminggan, Pangasinan, stressed his desire to help Navy-Standard clinch the team title.
“I’m just happy to be where I am in the individual standings,” said Barnachea. “I’m concentrating more on helping my team win the championship, that’s really my priority.”
After trailing then leader Cycleline-Butuan Mindanao and later 7-Eleven majority of the race, Navy-Standard finally made its move and seized the top spot in team race with a total clocking of 101:49:20, but just 14 seconds ahead of the Bong Sual-managed 7-Eleven, which pooled a 101:49:34.
The Navy-Standard skipper admitted he is more wary of PLDT-Maynilad than 7-Elevan. The Chris Allison-mentored PLDT-Maynilad squad composed of riders aged 23 years old and below, is just 51 seconds off the pace with 101:50:11.
“I think PLDT-Maynilad is more dangerous than 7-Eleven because of its young riders,” said Barnachea.