Ronda Pilipinas: Unknown rules 5th stage
DAGUPAN CITY—Twenty-year-old Dominic Perez of 7-Eleven towed the huge lead pack home in the 5th Stage Wednesday as the big guns of the Ronda Pilipinas 2015 presented by LBC braced themselves for the first big test in Baguio Friday.
Perez, a Ronda sophomore who is more than 40 minutes off the overall lead, nailed his first lap victory by winning the mad dash to the finish before crashing into the crowd as he gave way to fatigue at the end of the 138.9-kilometer ride from Tarlac City.
“I could no longer control the brakes,” said Perez, in Filipino, who was later helped by the crowd to get back to his team tent. “I was too tired because I gave it my all.”
The Sto. Tomas, Pangasinan rider timed three hours, four minutes and 42 seconds as he edged out Mark Bonzo, who placed second and John Mier, who was ranked third.
Overall leader Santy Barnachea of Navy checked in some four minutes later and easily retained his lead of seven minutes and 38 seconds over George Oconer of PSC-National team.
“Yes, I managed to protect the lead, but tomorrow I expect movements,” said Barnachea in Filipino, referring to the Stage 6 that will take the field to Baguio City via Naguillan.
But the 38-year-old winner of Ronda’s maiden edition said he is confident of keeping the lead with three of his teammates in the top 10—John Paul Morales, who edged out Army’s Cris Joven for third spot (9:26 off the leader), Ronald Oranza at fifth (11:35 behind) and team leader Lloyd Reynante at sixth (11:41).
“It’s good because they have to watch out for four of us, it’s difficult if I’m the only one they are guarding,” added Barnachea.
Reynante was in the lead pack for most part of the race directing the course of attack as Barnachea kept Oconer and Joven close by in the chase group.
Joven slid to fourth (11:30), while 2012 champ Irish Valenzuela moved up in the general classification from 9th to 7th place, 12:02 away from Barnachea, who has a total time of 17:29:03 after five stages.
Perez was in the middle of the big lead pack when they passed through his hometown before he joined a 30-man breakaway group.
“All of them were there,” said Perez in Filipino, referring to his family and friends who cheered for him at the sidelines. “I made the move right in my town that’s where we started to break away, there were about 30 of us.”
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