Roque tops stage; Ravina hangs toughBy June Navarro
Philippine Daily Inquirer
TACLOBAN CITY—Rudy Roque of LPGMA-American Vinyl leaned on his climbing prowess in a short uphill finale yesterday to pip teammate Ronnel Hualda and Ericson Obosa for Stage 5 top honors in the 2012 Ronda Pilipinas.
In only his second multistage race, Roque charged up the final ascent to rule the relatively flat 146.6-kilometer trip from Ormoc City in three hours, 32 minutes and 11 seconds and clinch his first Tour stage victory.
Baler Ravina of Road Bike Philippines kept the red jersey of overall leadership for the third straight stage after floating with the peloton along with the title challengers to wind up with the same stage clocking as Roque and 46 other riders.
“We saw the opportunity to attack in the final kilometer,” said Roque, a 21-year-old prized find from Tipo, Bataan, of his team’s 1-2 finish.
The son of former Tour veteran Zaldy Roque vaulted in front with teammate Rustom Lim and Stage 1 winner Tomas Martinez of One Tarlac in Dulag town, some 40 km to this busy port city.
Martinez, who held the overall lead for two days, showed the way for his companions for long stretches before the peloton caught up near the finish.
Overall, the standings hardly moved at all. Oscar Rindole of V-Mobile was still second, 30 seconds behind Ravina, LPGMA-American Vinyl’s Cris Joven was third, 48 back, while V-Mobile’s Rey Martin (1:16) and One Tarlac’s Joseph Millanes (1:37) also remained stuck in fourth and fifth.
Curiously, defending champion Santy Barnachea worked his way up, climbing to 12th overall from 15th (3:10) after keeping up with the leaders throughout the narrow course made challenging by countless sharp turns and a Category 2, 14 km ascent.
Joel Calderon, last year’s runner-up, also made a leap from 19th to 16th (4:10) while Philippine team anchor George Oconer, the reigning sprint king, jumped from 17th to 14th (4:05).
“They’re watching me but I’m watching them, too,” said Ravina, who grabbed the overall lead in Stage 3 from Tagum, Davao del Norte to Butuan City.
With the next two stages expected to be moderately difficult, Ravina believes he can keep the red jersey until the race reaches Atimonan, Quezon, on Saturday, where the first big climb of the Tour along a stretch popularly known as “Tatlong Eme” presents itself.
Today’s 170 km ride to Calbayog City, Samar, has a flat layout except for a pair of easy climbs.