Martinez soloes it home in Stage 1By June Navarro
Philippine Daily Inquirer
GENERAL SANTOS CITY— Tomas Martinez fought off dehydration and a bum stomach in the last 10 kilometers to complete a solo trip to victory in the opening stage of the 2012 LBC Ronda Pilipinas yesterday.
Riding for One Tarlac, Martinez spread his arms in jubilation as he crossed the line in four hours, 23 minutes and 14 seconds to earn the P50,000 paycheck that goes to the winner of every lap of this 15-leg bikathon.
He peeled off from a four-man lead pack in the last 10 km and sustained the solo breakaway to capture his fourth career lap victory that gave him the red jersey, Ronda’s color of leadership, from Orlie Villanueva.
Martinez, a 32-year-old Air Force sergeant, said his stomach began to act up halfway through the 183.3 km stage to Kiamba town in Sarangani province and back to the city hall grounds of the country’s tuna capital.
“I was in pain but somehow I managed to chase the lead pack,” said Martinez, who also seized the overall lead in the first stage of another major Tour back in 2009.
Alvin Benosa of Philippine Army placed second, arriving home nine seconds after Martinez while V-Mobile’s Oscar Rindole finished third, 11 seconds back.
Martinez’s teammates Merculio Ramos and Joseph Millanes checked in along with brothers Ronald and Reinhard Gorantes, 1:19 behind the lap winner.
Mindanao’s Dexter Nonato was eighth 1:27 behind, followed three seconds later by Cris Joven of LPGMA-American Vinyl and Rey Martin of V-Mobile.
Defending champion Santy Barnachea of Philippine Navy preferred to stay out of the limelight and finished 23rd, 2:01 behind.
The other contenders followed Barnachea’s example with Baler Ravina ending up 25th, 2:04 behind. Lloyd Reynante placed 29th, (2:57), George Oconer (37th, 3:44), Joel Calderon (42nd, 4:15) and Irish Valenzuela (53rd, 9:31).
“Let the others wear the red jersey, I don’t want the pressure on me,” said Calderon in Filipino, last year’s Ronda runner-up.
Oscar Rindole, who will wear the King of the Mountain white jersey, was second overall, eight seconds off Martinez, followed by Benosa (11 seconds behind), Ramos and Millanes (1:29) and the trio of Martin, Reinhard Gorantes and Guanzon, who were all trailing by 1:31. Joven was ninth (1:35) and Ronald Gorantes 10th (1:37).
After throwing up a few kilometers after the turnaround in Kiamba, Martinez chased the sprinting peloton in the rains on the shores of Sarangani Bay and bolted from the main field in the last of two hilly climbs, 30 km from the end of the stage.
He then joined the breakaway group of Rindole, Mark Galedo and Alvin Benosa near Barangay Calumpang before bursting ahead for good with 10 km left.
Just like Martinez, Benosa and Galedo suffered cramps due to dehydration going to the finish. Benosa, a former national team mountain bike rider, also complained of hunger after their team vehicles failed to support them in the deciding stretch.
One Tarlac grabbed the lead in the team race.
STAGE 1 RESULTS
Overall Individual Classification
1. Martinez, Tomas (OTL) 4:50:51, 2. Rindole, Oscar (VMB) 0:08, 3
Benosa, Alvin (PAR) 0:11, 4. Ramos, Merculio (OTL) 1:29, 5. Millanes, Joseph (OTL) same time, 6. Martin, Rey (VMB) 1:31, 7. Gorantes, Reinhard (NSM) same time, 8. Guanzon, Nicardo (VMB) same time, 9. Joven, Cris (AMV) 1:35, 10. Gorantes, Ronald (MML) 1:37, 11. Nonato, Dexter (MDN) 1:42, 12. Asto, Daniel (OTL) 1:44, 13. Galedo, Mark (RBP) 1:45, 14. Quirimit, Arnel (WCP) 1:46, 15. Esteban, Rene (WCP) 1:48, 16. Surban, Nino (YFM) 1:51, 17. Oledan, Tots (MDN) 1:58, 18. Sicam, Harvey (EPN) 1:59, 19. Villanueva, Orlie (VMB) 2:01, 20. Mier, John (PAR) 2:09.
Overall Team Classification
1. One Tarlac 13:42:05, 2. V-Mobile (0:28), 3. Army/RC Cola (2:27), 4. West Pangasinan (2:35), 5. Mindanao (2:43), 6. Navy/ Standard Insurance (3:57), 7. RoadBike Philippines (4:19), 8. Metro Manila (4:34), 9. YFM (5:39), 10. Navy/San Miguel 5:52