Sicam tops Stage 4; Santy still up

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CEBU CITY—Harvey Sicam,  a nephew of a two-time Tour champion,  topped a three-man sprint in yesterday’s Stage 4 to capture a lap for the first time in his career even as Santy Barnachea kept the 2013 Ronda Pilipinas overall lead.

The Road Bike rider from San Manuel, Pangasinan, whizzed ahead of rookie Ryan Tugawin and Rey Martin in a wild dash to the finish and clocked  three hours, 45 minutes and two seconds at the end of the 134.2-kilometer lap that began and ended at Plaza Independencia here.

“He’s my guardian every time I ride my bike,” said the 27-year-old Sicam as he offered his breakthrough lap win to his uncle Jacinto, who won the Tour in 1981 and 1982 and died in a motorcycle accident in 1990 in Urdaneta City.

“I always ask for guidance and inspiration whenever I visit his tomb before the Ronda,” added Sicam, eighth overall in the Ronda last year.

Tugawin of Team Enrile nipped  Martin of Smart as they checked in two seconds behind Sicam.

Barnachea of Philippine Navy skillfully kept the red jersey for the second consecutive stage and even gained a few valuable seconds on Tarlac’s Tomas Martinez.

Despite a heavy downpour going into the last 10-km climb in Naga City and a tense chase by the other contenders on the wind-swept seaside road entering the Queen City of the South, Barnachea widened the gap   over Martinez to 2 minutes 25 seconds after starting the day 2:01 ahead.

Barnachea checked in 29 seconds after Sicam.

“I could have done better if not for the cramps that hit me near the finish,” said the 36-year-old three-time Tour champion, who ruled the first Ronda in 2011, in Filipino.

Rudy Roque of LPGMA-American Vinyl remained third overall, 2:34 behind Barnachea. George Oconer of Navy moved up from seventh to fourth, 3:40 off the lead and PLDT’s Ronald Oranza climbed from 12th to fifth, 3:42 behind.

Today’s Stage 5 from Lapu-Lapu City to Busay (156.8 km) is expected to create huge gaps among the title contenders and the rest of the pack.

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