Roadbike Phils.’ captain Mark Galedon ascended to the summit of local cycling after winning the second LBC Ronda Pilipinas at the end of the grueling 16-leg cycling odyssey, which concluded in front of a banner weekend crowd at the Rizal Park last June 10, 2012 (Sunday).
Galedo’s victory was virtually in the bag when he fended off the challenge of American Vinyl-LPGMA’s Irish Valenzuela in the pivotal mountain stages last Thursday and Friday. Galedo formalized his hold on the country’s premier biking event following yesterday’s last stage, a 60-kilometer circuit race around Luneta along Roxas Boulevard.
Enjoying a comfortable 33-second lead over Valenzuela entering Sunday’s final leg, Galedo closed out his campaign by finishing 22nd (1:42.00) in the lap, which was won by Army-RC Cola’s Alfie Catalan (1:41.26). Catalan became the only triple stage winner in the event.
Galedo clocked a total time of 50 hours, 53 minutes and 58 seconds in pedaling away with the top prize of P1 million at the end of the 2,200-km competition over 32 major towns and cities in the country. Just 29 seconds behind was Valenzuela, who came tantalizingly close to unseating Galedo in Baguio, finished slightly ahead (1:41.58), but was no threat at all to his former 7-Eleven teammate.
With a total time of 50:54.27, Valenzuela settled for overall runner-up honors and got P500,000, while veteran Lloyd Lucien Reynante of Navy-Standard Insurance (50:58.07) finished third and took hom P250,000.
V-Mobile (151:29.24) captured the team championship and likewise received P1 million, while dethroned champion AMV-LPGMA (152:02.02) bagged second place, good for P500,000, and Navy-Standard Insurace (152:12.50) garnered P250,000 in taking third place. Valenzuela, who won the uphill Stages 9 and 13, was also adjudged King of the Mountain, worth another P50,000.
Teammate Cris Joven got the same amount after being crowned Sprint King. Army-RC Cola’s John Rene Mier, 19, earned P50,000 as the Best Young Rider of the cycling series.
In all, the 5-foot-4 Galedo earned a total of P1,138,400 after three weeks on intense competition. Roadbike Phils. team manager Bong Sual said he will give Galedo a Yamaha 150 cc FZ motorcycle worth P115,000 as a reward for his victory.
Although unable to win a leg similar to what Santy Barnachea did in last year’s inaugural Ronda, Galedo proved himself a crafty and resilient cyclist in annexing his second major cycling triumph since clinching the six-leg Tour of Luzon in 2009.
Nowhere was this seen most after the squad’s dreadful run in Stage 8, a rigorous 209.2-km. mountain trek from Daet, Camarines Norte to Lucena, passing through the challenging and narrow “Tatlong M” in Atimoman, Quezon.
This leg proved to be the waterloo of erstwhile overall pacesetter and teammate Baler Ravina, who suffered dehydration and struggled in at 71st place, bringing him down to 18th spot while his own team also nosedived from third to ninth.
Galedo, running eighth going into the leg, managed to check in at No. 41 and also dipped two rungs to No. 10 overall while teammates Ericson Obosa and John Mark Camingao were eliminated after failing to time limit, reducing the squad to four riders.
But instead of being down, the Roadbike Phils. skipper used the circumstances as a springboard to a comeback in attacking Stage 9 in a pivotal duel with Valenzuela, who won the Lucena-Antipolo leg by a hair.
While merely finishing runner-up, it was enough to push Galedo on top of the overall heap as overnight leader Cris Joven suffered a nasty crash in the early part of the stage on a railroad crossing in Tiaong, Quezon and was never the same after that.
A native of Tabaco, Albay, Valenzuela attempted twice to seize the initiative from his ex-teammate in the successive mountain stages – the 96.7-km. grind from Lingayen to Baguio and the 19.6-km. individual time trial from Tuba to Burnham Park.
But Galedo deftly foiled each challenge, leaving him with a comfortable 33-second lead over the AMV-LPGMA rider at the end of both uphill tests to virtually settle the issue.
While 96 riders began the journey in Sarangani province nearly three weeks ago, they were reduced to 74 cyclists at the windup of the event at the Rizal Park yesterday.
Race director Rick Rodriguez disclosed that they are eyeing a late January start for the bikefest next year so that it coincides with two of the country’s annual colorful festivals: the Sinulog in Cebu and the Panagbenga flower celebration in Baguio City.
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