Galedo virtual Ronda Pilipinas champBy June Navarro
Philippine Daily Inquirer
TARLAC CITY—Questioned for his psychological toughness in the past, Mark Galedo has now proven his detractors wrong.
The Road Bike skipper kept the red jersey of leadership after yesterday’s penultimate stage of the Ronda Pilipinas, all but formalizing his second Tour victory.
Galedo, a tenacious climber, never gave his closest challenger Irish Valenzuela a chance to launch a last-ditch attack after they both finished with the big wave of riders at the end of the relatively flat 134.4-kilometer trip from San Fernando, La Union, won by track specialist Alfie Catalan.
“Many people have doubted my ability to win a long race such as this despite the skills that I have,” said Galedo, the 2009 Tour of Luzon champion, in Filipino.
“They say I don’t have the strategy and mental toughness and win just on sheer strength. They’re wrong.”
Valenzuela, Ronda’s king of the mountain for the second consecutive year, conceded the title after the LPGMA-American Vinyl team captain failed to overcome the 33-second lead by Galedo after two critical stages in Baguio City.
Although there’s one more stage left, today’s 90-km criterium race is just a ceremonial drive on Roxas Boulevard in Manila and mounting a successful attack in the flat route is virtually impossible.
“I’ll try harder next year,” said Valenzuela, 25, who has captured three KOM crowns since 2006 but had never won an individual plum.
Catalan, of Philippine Army, stormed past Merculio Ramos of One Tarlac in the final 200 meters with a late burst of speed, pocketing his second stage victory and the P50,000 lap winner’s purse in three hours, three minutes and three seconds.
Riders from Nueva Ecija, Road Bike and Philippine Navy joined forces to help Galedo retain the red jersey for the sixth straight day.
Those teams went on to keep their places in the overall team standings and prevented LPGMA-American Vinyl from retaining the championship.
LPGMA-American Vinyl will most likely end up the runner-up, 2:41 behind virtual champion Nueva Ecija.