ILIGAN CITY—Rudy Roque of LPGMA-American Vinyl used his sprinting prowess to rule Stage 3 of the 2013 Ronda Pilipinas yesterday even as three-time champion Santy Barnachea of Philippine Navy retained the overall lead going into a pair of punishing mountain legs in Cebu.
A time-trial specialist, Roque broke away from the five-man lead pack in the last few hundred meters and crossed the line in three hours, 17 minutes and 51 seconds at the end of the 137.8-kilometer ride from Pagadian City. It was his third career lap victory.
Ronald Oranza of PLDT nipped Warren Davadilla of YFM Cebu for second place with Asto Daniel of Philippine Navy and Kenneth Solis of Team Hundred Islands finishing 12 seconds behind the stage winner.
Barnachea, the 2011 Ronda champion, finished in a group of title contenders a minute off Roque and kept the red jersey of leadership as the 23-day, 16-stage bikathon takes a two-day break after five days in the Zamboanga peninsula.
Except for Roque surging from 11th to third overall, the top 10 riders kept their positions with Barnachea holding a two-minute lead over Tomas Martinez of Tarlac and 2:54 up on Roque.
“I didn’t expect to be here (in the top 10). Right now, I’m just happy to win a stage,” said the 21-year-old Roque, a prized find from Hermosa, Bataan, and one of 10 cyclists from the “athlete from the barrio” program of LPGMA team owner and party-list Rep. Arnel Ty.
Ronald Gorantes of Road Bike dropped to fourth overall, three minutes off the overall leader, followed by Irish Valenzuela of LPGMA-American Vinyl (3:01 behind), Joel Calderon of Smart (3:09), George Oconer of Navy (3:16), Marcelo Felipe of Smart (3:19), Cris Joven of LPGMA (3:35) and Reynaldo Navarro of Hundred Islands (3:38).
“I tried to keep pace with the other contenders and I felt exhausted,” said Barnachea, the only three-time champion after the Tour was revived more than a decade ago.
At the peak of a minor climb 30 km into the stage, Barnachea joined a 13-rider breakaway pack which was soon swallowed by the peloton following a high-speed pursuit in the plains of Lanao del Norte.
“I don’t want to be left behind, so I joined them in every attack,” said Barnachea.
Defending champion Mark Galedo finished 11th in the lap to stay within striking distance at 17th overall, 5:03 off Barnachea.
Roque surged ahead in Bacolod town, some 30 km to the finish, and towed four riders with him, including Oranza and two-time Tour champion Davadilla.
When the final 2 km straightaway came into view, Roque peeled off from the pack and sustained his solo charge to the finish.
After yesterday’s race, the Ronda entourage immediately proceeded to Cagayan de Oro and took a ferry bound for Cebu City.
Stage 4 is a 134.2 km loop in Cebu City made challenging by three mid-level climbs on Jan. 17 after a two-day respite.
Stage 3 Results
1. R. Roque (AVL) 3:17:51, 2. R. Oranza (PDT) 0:12, 3. W. Davadilla (YFM) same time, 4. D. Asto (PNS) same time, 5. K. Solis (HIP) same time, 6. H. Sicam (RPR) 1:03, 7. R. Lapaza (TMC) 1:04, 8. J. Morales (PNS) same time, 9. R. Hualda (RPR) same time, 10. M. Bonzo (PDT) same time, 11. M. Galedo (RPR) same time, 12. E. Obosa (RPR) same time, 13. G. Aquino Jr. (RPR) same time, 14. J. Mier (PDT) same time, 15. R. Tuwagin (TEN) same time, 16. O. Villanueva (VMS) same time, 17. T Oledan (TMC) same time, 18. A. Catalan (RPR) same time, 19. V. Vicmar (TMC) same time, 20. E. Atilano (YFM) same time.
1. S. Barnachea (PNS) 9:54:19, 2. T. Martinez (TTC) 2:01, 3. R. Roque (AVL) 2:54, 4. R. Gorantes (RPR) 3:00, 5. I. Valenzuela (AVL) 3:01, 6. J. Calderon (VMS) 3:09, 7. G. Oconer (PNS) 3:16, 8. M. Felipe (VMS) 3:19, 9. C. Joven (AVL) 3:35, 10. R. Navarro (HIP) 3:38, 11. L. Reynante (PNS) 3:39, 12. R. Oranza (PDT) 4:04, 13. M. Ramos (TTC) 4:12, 14. R. Martin (VMS) 4:21, 15. V. Vicmar (TMC) 4:27, 16. H. Sicam (RPR) 4:45, 17. M. Galedo (RPR) 5:03, 18. D. Asto (PNS) 5:17, 19. J. Ravina (RPR) 5:39, 20. R. Lapaza(TMC) 6:17.