NAGA City, Philippines – Jerry Aquino Jr of Scratch It came through with a race of his life as he topped Stage Three and snatched the overall general classification lead from Mark Julius Bordeos of Bicycology-Army in the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 10th anniversary race that started in Legazpi City and ended at Panganiban Drive on Tuesday, February 25.
The 27-year-old Aquino edged Go for Gold skipper Ronnel Hualda and Bicycology-Army’s Dominic Perez in a mass finish as all clocked two hours, 47 minutes, and 12 seconds to achieve many firsts – a breakthrough lap victory and his first ever taste of the overall lead.
“It was always my dream to wear the leader’s jersey so it was really a dream come true,” said Aquino in Filipino.
Aquino’s father Jerry Sr was a veteran of the fabled Marlboro Tour.
Aquino will wear the LBC red jersey on Wednesday’s grueling 206-kilometer Stage 4, the longest lap in the 10-stage race where the individual chamption will bring home P1 million.
The Makati City native gained a 10-second time bonus for his recent feat to supplant Bordeos, the Sorsogon Stage One winner, from the top with a total time of 9:43:39 while the latter slid to 2nd with 9:43:46.
Aquino, however, benefitted from the heated battle being waged by fierce rivals 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Roadbike Philippines and Standard Insurance-Navy, two of the country’s top teams.
“We just watched them (7Eleven and Standard). It was really intense,” said Aquino.
So far though, 7Eleven has been outdoing Standard as it has not only sent 5 riders in the top 10, it also clung to the general team lead in this event.
Rustom Lim (9:43:52), Mark Galedo (9:43:59), Aidan James Mendoza (9:44:05), Marcelo Felipe (9:44:08), and Mervin Corpuz (9:44:08) held their spots from 4th to 8th.
Standard’s George Oconer, for his part, kept his stranglehold of No. 3 with 9:43:52 but he was the only rider from his team up there as teammates and former champions Jan Paul Morales and Ronald Oranza languished at 13th (9:45:02) and 18th (9:45:17), respectively.
Rounding up the top 10 were Alvin Benosa of the Celeste Cycles Phl Dev Pro Team (9:44:09) and Jester Neli Mendoza of Bicycology (9:44:13).
The Galedo-skippered squad led with 36:08:59, ahead of Standard (36:11:30) and Bicycology (36:11:39).
Standard’s Junrey Navarra, Celeste’s Roel Quitoy, and Go for Gold’s Ronnilan Quita conquered the perilous mountains of Sugnay, Camarines Sur, facing Misibis Bay but couldn’t sustain their lead as the Aquino-led peloton managed to catch up with the troika in the final 20-km stretch. – Rappler.com