Virtual Tour champ won’t stop riding
ANGELES CITY—As victory beckons, Santy Barnachea shelved his retirement plans for another shot at greatness in cycling’s most prestigious race.
The red jersey holder from Umingan, Pangasinan, strolled with the peloton in a mass finish to keep the overall lead as the 2011 LBC Ronda Pilipinas paid its respects to a fallen member of the entourage in Saturday’s Stage 11 from Baguio City.
Nilo Estayo of Ilocos Sur seized lap honors in four hours and 5:01 minutes as he towed the field home at the end of the rain-soaked, 129.6-kilometer ride to this former home of the United States air base.
As a gesture of condolence, the stage and special prize winners donated the entire P130,500 purse of the day to the family of moto commissaire 1 Rory Galising, who passed away due to cardiac arrest at the Baguio General Hospital Saturday morning. He was 43.
Galising, cousin of PhilCycling secretary general and two-time Tour champion Cornelio Padilla, was found slumped at the elevator entrance of Hotel Elizabeth at around 4:30 a.m. He was declared dead an hour later.
With just one stage left, the overall title has been conceded to Barnachea since overtaking the 35-year-old Navyman in today’s nine-lap, 41.4-km criterium on Roxas Boulevard is deemed impossible.
“It’s already mine,’’ said Barnachea, who also captured the 2006 Tour and 2002 Tour of Calabarzon. “This is the most difficult race that I participated in.’’
“I was supposed to retire this year, but my long-time coach Johnny Borja has urged me to give it another try,’’ added Barnachea, a father of two, who now lives in San Mateo, Rizal.
Barnachea kept his lead of 6 minutes 28 seconds over Nueva Ecija’s Joel Calderon.
PhilCycling U23’s George Oconer remained third, 6:42 behind.
The team race has also been decided with American Vinyl/LPGMA of coach Rene Dolosa enjoying a hefty lead of 12:15 over 7-Eleven.