CCN’s Christie rules Ronda Pilipinas kickoff
MANIA, Philippines — A triumphant ride in the opener of a multistage race has somewhat become an obsession for Jason Christie of CCN Continental Cycling Team.
Christie ruled the kickoff lap of the Ronda Pilipinas International 2014 Saturday at the Quezon Memorial Circle, the 6th career Stage 1 victory of the sprinter from Ashburton, New Zealand, and his 10th stage win overall.
“I make it a point to ride strong during the start of the race,” said the 23-year-old after clocking two hours, seven minutes and 46 seconds in a 66-km, high-velocity ride of 45 laps around the monument of former President Quezon in Quezon City.
Oscar Rindole of Team Cebu-Kalit Philippine Air Force checked in second, 10 seconds behind, and Marcelo Felipe of Roadbike Philippines placed third, 39 ticks back, as both of them failed to chase down Christie in the final lap.
Two-time Tour champion Mark Galedo of 7 Eleven Continental Cycling Team was ninth, 46 seconds back, and defending champion Irish Valenzuela of Philippine Army was a minute behind the stage winner at 10th.
“We rode just to get a feel of what we’re up against. The real race begins tomorrow (Sunday),” said Galedo, the 2012 Ronda winner.
Christie will wear the ruby red leader’s jersey in today’s 181.8-km race from Muntinlupa City to Silang, Cavite.
The 84 riders face two low-grade ascents at Puerto Azul in Ternate, Cavite, and Punta Fuego, an upscale resort going to Nasugbu, Batangas, and a medium-level climb entering Alfonso, Cavite, before they trudge a long and winding 10-km uphill finish.
“I’m not sure if I can hold onto it (red jersey). I haven’t seen the route but I know it’s going to be tough,” said Christie, a former track racer who rode for six different continental teams since 2009.
Christie took the two intermediate sprints for the day. He surged ahead of the peloton after whizzing past Riemon Lapaza of Team Cycleline Butuan Mindanao on the first sprint halfway through the course.
Setting the pace with Rindole, Christie built a 30-second gap on the chase group of six riders featuring two-time Tour winner Warren Davadilla and Galedo.
Christie, however, sped ahead of Rindole in the final several hundred meters and celebrated by spreading his arms at the finish.
Lloyd Reynante of Philippine Navy Standard Insurance checked in second in the stage that paraded the riders and drumbeat the Ronda on the busy thoroughfares of Diliman, Quezon City, before the criterium.
But race officials ruled that Reynante, son of Tour legend Maui Reynante, was supposed to arrive behind the podium finishers after the lead pack of Christie overtook him in last few laps of the race.
Today’s race is dedicated to Reynante’s father, who hails from Muntinlupa City. He won the Tour twice in the 70s and passed away last year.