Tour de France vet retains Ronda red jersey
ROXAS CITY, Capiz—Spaniard Francisco Mancebo Perez expects his challengers to throw every trick in the book just to see him fall off the perch.
The Tour de France veteran arrived with a big bunch of riders, including the top contenders, to retain the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2019 overall leadership after Monday’s penultimate fourth stage seized by Indonesian Jamalidin Novardianto in a furious sprint finish.
“It’s difficult to figure out where the attacks will come,” said Mancebo, whose resume includes a couple of top 10 finishes in both the Tour de France and Vuelta a España and a multitude of high-profile races in Europe.
“But I have confidence in my team, we have to work tomorrow to keep us in front.”
The 42-year-old elite climber from Matrix Powertag Japan must hold onto the red jersey, Ronda’s symbol of leadership, on the final stage Tuesday—a high-velocity 148.9-kilometer chase on the rolling terrain going to Pandan, Antique—to claim the title.
There’s a small climb near the end of the stage and Mancebo’s main challengers sees it as a narrow window of opportunity to erase the Spaniard’s almost four-minute advantage.
Defending champion Ronald Oranza of Navy Standard Insurance remained second overall, 3:52 behind Mancebo and Dominic Perez of 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Road Bike Philippines stayed in third spot, 3:55 off the pace.
“Nothing is certain until the race is over,” said Mancebo. “You don’t know what might happen here, unlike in Europe where the attacks will come from just three or four riders.”
Novardianto, who rides for PGN Cycling Team, crossed the line in three hours, 37 minutes and 53 seconds, just a wheel ahead of second-placer Mohd Shahrul Mat Amin of Terrenganu and Korail’s Kangeun Joo, who completed the podium.
Overall, Navy’s Jan Paul Morales is running third (4:35 behind), followed by Junya Sano of Matrix (4:53), Korail’s Daeyeong Joo (4:58), 7Eleven’s Irish Valenzuela (5:20), Army’s Mark Julius Bordeos (same time), Rustom Lim of 7Eleven (5:28) and teammate Arjay Peralta (6:13).
Ismael Grospe of Go For Gold Philippines Continental Team is still the leader in the under-23 category with Korail’s Taewoo Kang trailing him by 4:42 and Go For Gold teammate Daniel Ven Carino at third, 9:13 back.
Another subplot that has gained interest is the rivalry generated by Oranza and Perez along with their respective teams.
Matrix spearheads the overall team classification race, 2:05 faster than 7Eleven Road Bike Philippines and 2:49 ahead of Navy Standard Insurance.
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