LBC Ronda Pilipinas Tour resumes Friday
CALAPAN CITY—Former champion Joel Calderon of Nueva Ecija sets out in Stage 4 of the 2011 LBC Ronda Pilipinas Friday with youngsters George Oconer of the Philippine Under-23 team and Rudy Roque of American Vinyl breathing down his neck.
The 31-year-old 2009 champion, with a total time of four hours, 16 minutes and 41 seconds, holds a 37-second lead over the 19-year-old Oconer, son of Barcelona Olympian Norberto Oconer.
Roque, 20, is one minute and 26 minutes behind the red jersey holder going into Friday’s 93.7-kilometer stage which starts and ends in this port city.
The stage, which actually kicks off the Luzon phase of the 12-stage tour, will be a test between experience and young, fresh legs. It will have three climbs of at least 200 meters above sea level and a couple of long sprints.
The complete times of the rest of the cyclists have yet to be released as organizers struggled to cope with an inefficient race results system.
In fact, the team overall standings only came out the morning after Wednesday’s Stage 3 while the Tour entourage was in the middle of an 11-hour boat trip from Caticlan to here.
American Vinyl, bannered by Roque and Stage 2 winner Cris Joven, showed the way in the team race with a total time of 42:55:58.
Team 7-11, led by Stage 3 winner Lloyd Lucien Reynante and Irish Valenzuela who are both in the top 10, was a close second (43:08:23) while Calderon’s Nueva Ecija squad stood third (43:10:30).
Rounding out the top 10 teams are National Capital Region (43:16:19), Cebu (43:19:17), C&W Pangasinan (43:21:14), Tarlac (43:24:48), Bicolandia (43:26:36), East Pangasinan (43:35:00) and Ilocos Sur (43:44:16).
“If the country is hoping to send its first cyclist to Tour de France, these are the kids they should be looking at,” said the 33-year-old Reynante, son of two-time champ Maui Reynante, in Filipino.
“I’m no longer dreaming of it but I plan to win this Tour and bike for the next two years before beginning my career as a coach.”
Oconer is a high school senior at Kalayaan National High in Caloocan who is on his second Tour. He wound up 20th overall last year.
Cebu’s Jay Bop Pagnanawon—son of 1986 champion Rolando—is now eighth overall after his third-place finish in the third stage.
At fourth place is Santy Barnachea, who yielded the red jersey of leadership to Calderon after Stage 3.
The older Oconer and Pagnanawon are with the support crew of their sons in this event.
Stage 1 winner Ronald Gorantes and Mark Julius Bonzo are also second-generation riders in this year’s batch. Bonzo is son of the late 1983 champion Romeo, while Gorantes’ father Ernesto is a tour veteran.
After Barnachea is Arnel Quirimit of C&W Pangasinan/Jazy Sport, who won the Tour in 2003, Joven Valenzuela, Pagnanawon, two-time champion Warren Davadilla and Reynante.