LEGAZPI CITY — Ryan Tugawin of Tarlac took his very first stage victory while 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Roadbike Philippines and Standard Insurance-Navy waged a heated battle for cycling supremacy in the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 10th anniversary race.
Tugawin, 30, outfoxed a talented but inexperienced 21-year-old Ismael Grospe, Jr. of Go for Gold in a frantic mass finish to take the 154.5-km Sorsogon-Legazpi Stage Two and essay his best effort after winding up second in the Guimaras stage a year ago.
Grospe slid to second while George Oconer of Standard Insurance completed the podium finish as all — including 43 riders from the peloton — clocked three hours, 50 minutes and 37 seconds.
It was an epic win for Tugawin as he sprinted past Grospe by coming out from the right side and besting a slew veterans up front.
When it was over, Tugawin raised his right hand in triumph.
“This is a memorable victory for me because this is my first stage win,” said Tugawin, a rice farmer back home in Solano, Nueva Vizcaya if he isn’t racing, in Filipino.
“I just found a space and gave it all in the end,” he added.
Tugawin later said he achieved the feat while 7Eleven and Standard, two of the country’s top cycling teams, tried to outdo each other in this 10-stage race presented by LBC and supported by the Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation.
“I got help from 7Eleven, who pushed and help the peloton to catch up with the leaders,” said Tugawin.
At first, Navymen Jan Paul Morales and Ronald Oranza appeared to have the upper hand over 7Eleven’s Mark Galedo as the three clashed it out in the lead pack before the latter’s teammates towed the rampaging peloton and closed the distance before they caught up with the lead pack in the final 10km.
The effort allowed 7Eleven, which was back to reclaim the team crown after a four-year absence, to knock Standard out of the general team classification lead with a total time of 27:47:23.
The Navymen, who have dominated Ronda in the past years in the absence of the 7Eleven riders, slipped to second in 27:49:54.
7Eleven also had five bets in the top 10 — Rustom Lim (6:56:40), Galedo (6:56:47), Aidan James Mendoza (6:56:54), Marcelo Felipe (6:56:56) and Mervin Corpuz (6:56:56).
Oconer was the lone Standard rider in that group as he is currently at third overall with 6:56:40.
Bicycology-Army’s Mark Julius Bordeos, who seized the Stage One win in Sorsogon the day before, kept his grip of the lead with 6:56:34 while Scratch It’s Jerry Aquino, Jr. stayed at second in 6:56:37.
Alvin Binosa of Celeste Cycles (6:56:57) and Jester Neil Mendoza of Bicycology (6:57:01) rounded up the top 10.
And expect race to heat more when the race backed by Versa, 8A Performance, Print2Go, Petron, Green Planet, Bike Xtreme, Standard Insurance, Spyder, CCN, Lightwater, Prolite, Guerciotti, Black Mamba, Boy Kanin, Vitamin Boost, NLEX-SCTEX, Maynilad, 3Q Sports Event Management Inc., LBC Foundation and PhilCycling continues in Tuesday’s 119km Legazpi-Naga Stage Three.