LPGMA squad eyes bikathon double kill
Philippine Daily Inquirer
CABANATUAN CITY—Focused solely on team championsips before, LPGMA-American Vinyl is attempting to bring a more valuable piece of hardware in the Ronda Pilipinas this time around.
The defending team champions have two of their riders—Irish Valenzuela and Cris Joven—in serious contention for the overall individual crown and the P1-million windfall that goes with it.
After topping Stage 9, Valenzuela surged from 20th to fourth overall while retaining the white king of the mountain jersey for six consecutive stages. Joven, who held the red jersey of leadership for a day on the same course that Valenzuela ruled, is also within striking distance at ninth, just 4:30 off the lead.
“We talked about clinching the individual title after we won the team general classification last year and it seems Irish and Cris have been taking it seriously,” said LPGMA partylist Rep. Arnel Ty, owner of the multititled club together with businessman Eric Sy.
Joven stripped the red shirt off climber Baler Ravina in Stage 8, the second longest route of the Ronda covering 209.2 kilometers that ended in Lucena three days ago, but lost it after suffering a crash in Tiaong, Quezon going to Antipolo on Sunday.
“It’s better that we didn’t keep the red jersey for long. It builds up pressure,” said LPGMA-American Vinyl coach Renato Dolosa.
Though the main objective is to capture the team crown two in a row, Dolosa doesn’t hide the desire to nail the individual title for one of his riders.
The two-time Tour champion believes they have the means to pull it off with Rudy Roque, Ronnel Hualda, Rustom Lim and Edmundo Nicolas ready to sacrifice for either Valenzuela or Joven. June Navarro