Ravina breaks thru in Le Tour
Tabs first PH victory with brave rideBy June Navarro
Philippine Daily Inquirer
BAGUIO CITY—Three weeks ago, Baler Ravina surveyed the serpentine roads that run through the Sierra Madre and Cordillera mountain ranges, checking out every crucial obstruction that could prevent him from finishing the stage.
Yesterday, the pride of Asingan, Pangasinan, conquered the treacherous route and became the first Filipino champion of a Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) multistage race.
Ravina of Go21 formed an alliance with Joel Calderon of Mail & More in the most punishing stretch of the 133.8-kilometer ride from Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, to rule the 2012 Le Tour de Filipinas presented by Air21 that ended in the country’s summer capital.
The high-altitude specialist was close to breaking down in tears on the winners’ podium as a huge throng celebrated his first career Tour victory at Burnham Park.
“I have been King of the Mountain three times and won several stages in my career,” said Ravina in Filipino after finishing second in the stage topped by Calderon.
“This time, I finally won the biggest prize.”
Calderon had an identical clocking of four hours, 36 minutes and six seconds with Ravina, who was greeted by Go21 president Emer Ilagan and Vince Garcia, VP of team supporter Wetshop, at the finish line.
Crowned King of the Mountain (KOM) in the 2007, 2008 and 2009 tours, Ravina vaulted from ninth overall overnight, two minutes and 11 seconds off the overall lead, to compile an aggregate time of 13:20:26 for the 499.08 km four-stage bikathon.
Calderon, who started the stage that featured three KOM summits in 14th overall, 3:45 back, also made a giant leap, finishing third in the general classification.
Ravina’s victory in the Tour broke the stranglehold of foreign riders who ruled the past two stagings of the Tour supported by Smart, Foton and Jinbei.
“I told him (Ravina) that we should help each other out,” said Calderon, the 2009 Padyak Pinoy champion, in Filipino. “The foreign riders were united and we Filipinos should do the same.”
Ravina and Iranian Mohammad Pouri caught up with the lead pack that included Feng Chun-kai of Chinese Taipei and Stage 3 winner Azamat Turaev of Uzbekistan along the first treacherous climb in Barangay Tidang, Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya, 48 km into the race.
But Turaev, who predicted a mighty performance by his countrymen in the mountains, couldn’t keep up with the pace set by Feng, Pouri and Ravina who got away ahead of the next punishing ascent in Ponpon town.
Calderon caught up with the three-man lead group near the Benguet-Nueva Vizcaya border, some 70 km to the finish.
Feng, fagged out after topping the two KOM summits, slowed down going to the next peak and dropped out of the pack.
Despite Feng’s failure to sustain the charge, the Action Cycling Team skipper snatched the KOM title from Ravina.
Turaev, a former Asian road race junior champion, was crowned Sprint King.
Rustom Lim, 19, of American Vinyl-LPGMA clinched the young rider award.
As they neared the final climb—a 13.7 km killer stretch on the fringes of the Ambuklao Dam —Ravina and Calderon drafted a plan to ease out Pouri.
And Ravina, who wore an old pair of socks with a huge hole as lucky charm, and Calderon succeeded in leaving Pouri behind.
The tandem never looked back and built a gap of 1:50 over the second group.
Singaporean Loh Sea Keong finished third in the stage, 1:50 off Ravina for second overall while German Timo Scholz, who ended his two-day run in the yellow jersey, finished fourth in the stage (4:21) and fourth overall (2:16).
American Vinyl-LPGMA captured the team title with a total clocking of 40:28:48.
STAGE INDIVIDUAL CLASSIFICATION 1. Calderon, Joel (MM) 4:36:06, 2. Ravina, Baler (G21) same time, 3. Loh Sea Keong (TSI) 1:50, 4. Scholz, Timo (CCN) 4:21, 5. Kers Koos Jeroen (GLB) 4:25, 6. Galedo, John Mark (SMT) same time, 7. Feng Chun Kai (ACT) 5:56, 8. Valenzuela, Iris (AVL) 6:34, 9. Lim, Rustom (AVL) same time, 10. Joven, Cris (AVL) 10:40, 11. Hualda, Ronnel (AVL) same time, 12. Ito Masakazu (AIS) 10:43, 13. Fukushima, Shinichi (TSG) same time, 14. Reynante, Lloyd (SMT)10:47, 15. Williamson, James (BNZ) 13:33, 16. Pouri Mohammed (UST) same time, 17. Jang, Paul Morales (KIA) 13:47, 18. Martin, Rey (MM) 13:48, 19. Rendole, Oscar (MM) 13:51, 20. Roque, Rudy (AVL) 14:04
INDIVIDUAL GENERAL CLASSIFICATION 1. Ravina, Baler (G21) 13:20:26, 2. Loh Sea Keong (TSI) 0:16, 3. Calderon, Joel (MM) 1:30, 4. Scholz, Timo (CCN) 2:16, 5. Kers Koos Jeroen (GLB) 4:06, 6. Galedo, John Mark (SMT) 7:48, 7. Lim, Rustom (AVL) 8:08, 8. Valenzuela, Iris (AVL) 9:57, 9. Rendole, Oscar (MM) 12:52, 10. Williamson, James (BNZ) 13:20, 11. Hualda, Ronnel (AVL) 13:25, 12. Roque, Rudy (AVL) 13:51, 13. Ito, Masakazu (AIS) 14:35, 14. Fukushima, Shinichi (TSG) 14:50, 15. Reynante, Lloyd (SMT) 15:03, 16. Feng Chun Kai (ACT) 16:21, 17. Martin, Rey (MM) 16:36, 18. Jang, Paul Morales (KIA) 17:43, 19. Patria Rastra (COL) 18:51, 20. Quirimit, Arnel (G21) 19:35