Santy Barnachea new leader; Hard-charging Joven tops Ronda’s ‘Longest Day’
Joven, a 25-year-old former marathon runner, launched an attack in the final 12 kilometers of the 214 km second stage and thundered down the town plaza drenched in mud and sweat ahead of everybody else for his first-ever stage victory.
Towering among his peers at 5-foot-8, the rider from Iriga City in Camarines Sur clocked five hours, 15 minutes and 3.8 seconds to win the P50,000 lap prize.
But it was the 2002 and 2006 champion Barnachea who ended up as overall leader by towing the lead pack home, just a second behind Joven, after outsprinting his younger rivals in the mad dash to the finish.
“I realized that I can still do it,” said the 35-year-old Barnachea in Filipino after the Umingan, Pangasinan, bet forged ahead in the overall classification by eight seconds over Joel Calderon.
“But this time I won’t try to hold on to it (red jersey) that hard. The competition is too tough and the riders are all strong.”
Calderon, riding for Nueva Ecija, ranked third in the stage, 6.2 seconds off the winner, and also went away with the sprints prize.
Former champion Arnel Quirimit finished fourth, 22.9 seconds behind Joven, in the Tour’s longest lap which started in Dumaguete City.
Then came Joseph Millanes of American Vinyl, Nilo Estayo of Ilocos Sur, Philippine Under-23 skipper George Oconer, National Capital Region’s Frederick Feliciano and Warren Davadilla and Rudy Roque of American Vinyl who all checked in 34.3 seconds later.
Stage 1 winner Ronald Gorantes of Negros was part of the huge bunch that finished 11 minutes 54 seconds off the stage winner and fell deep down the standings.
Quirimit of C&W Pangasinan-Jazy Sport rose to third in the overall classification, 28 seconds behind Barnachea, followed by Oconer (43 seconds), Roque (1:28), Joven (4:18), Jay Bop Pagnanawon of Cebu (5:39), Irish Valenzuela of 7-11 (5:51), two-time champion Davadilla (5:56) and Alvin Benosa of Bicolandia (7:41).
“I tried to stay with our seven-man lead pack,” recounted Joven in Filipino. “In the final 20 kilometers I poured everything. And while they guarded each other, I broke free in the last 12.”
Barnachea said he had learned from what happened in 2009, when he took the pole position in the second stage until the seventh only to lose the crown to Calderon.
American Vinyl also came from five minutes down to steal the team leadership from 7-11.