Sherwin Diamsay tops stage; Joel Calderon still rules
VIGAN CITY—As the Tour contenders held their fire again Tuesday, Sherwin Diamsay burst out of the pack and stole the last sprint stage ahead of the treacherous and decisive mountain stages in the 2011 LBC Ronda Pilipinas.
Tarlac’s Diamsay peeled off from the peloton in the last 60 kilometers and withstood a late charge by teammate Tomas Martinez and Warren Davadilla of NCR Standard Insurance to rule Stage 8 in two hours, 54 minutes and six seconds.
Diamsay raised both fists with still 100 meters to the finish line, the last-ditch stand of both Davadilla, who was hampered by a defective rear-wheel break pad, and Martinez simply fizzling out in the mad dash to the finish.
Joel Calderon of Nueva Ecija kept the red jersey of the overall classification leader after nestling safely in the main pack together with his nearest pursuers for most of the 129.63 km ride along the coast from San Fernando City, La Union.
“I left everybody in the big group,” said the 31-year-old Diamsay, who bagged the stage winner’s purse of P50,000, in Filipino.
Two-time Tour champion Davadilla, already the Stage 6 winner, and Martinez checked in two seconds after Diamsay. They were followed home by a big bunch of riders headed by Rene Esteban of C&W Pangasinan.
“When Warren and Tomas began to close in, I made sure that this will be mine,” said Diamsay, a tricycle driver from Pura, Tarlac, after claiming his fifth career stage victory.
Davadilla moved to 10th place overall from 12th, and now stood seven minutes and 44 seconds off Calderon.
“They know I’m still far off in the standings,” said Davadilla, who turned 37 last Monday. “But they also know that I could pull off a suprise in the next two stages.
“There’s a good chance if they (Tour contenders) watch over each other again,” added the Airman first class.
Except for Davadilla dislodging Lloyd Reynante of 7-Eleven from 10th overall, there was no movement in the Top 10 individual general classification at all.
Calderon arrived in a massive group together with PhilCycling U23’s George Oconer, who was 14 seconds behind for the third consecutive day, Irish Valenzuela of 7-Eleven (1:36 behind), American Vinyl’s Rudy Roque (2:24) and Santy Barnachea of Eastern Pangasinan (3:14).
Arnel Quirimit of C&W Pangasinan (5:42), Bicolandia’s Alvin Benosa (6:14), Baler Ravina of Eastern Pangasinan (7:21) and American Vinyl’s Cris Joven (7:37) rounded off the first 10.
“They [other contenders] are just waiting for the chance to break free,” said the 30-year-old Calderon, who clinched the 2009 Tour title in the Vigan-Baguio finale without winning a single stage.
Bigger gaps in the overall standings are expected tomorrow when the first of two straight Hors-category mountain stages to and from Baguio City are held.
Today is rest day for the 94 surviving riders, including John Mier of PhilCycling U23 who was reinstated by the organizers after crashing out of Stage 7.
From Vigan, a Unesco heritage site, the cyclists will negotiate a long 181.4 km ascent to the country’s Summer Capital via Naguilian Road tomorrow before the riders race against the clock on Friday in the short but steep 46.4 km climb from Agoo to Baguio.
“The individual and team champions will be crowned up there [Baguio],” said Valenzuela, who won the King of the Mountain plum on his 2006 Tour debut and the 250 km Manila-to-Baguio race in 2008.
American Vinyl-LPGMA stayed on top in the team race with a total clocking of 76:26:54, 5:29 clear of second-running 7-Eleven and 13:09 ahead of Nueva Ecija.