KIWI Jason Christie edged out Danish CCN teammate Joh Ebsen and Frenchman Peter Pouly in a frantic sprint to the finish to seize lap honor on Friday, but it was local bet Mark Galedo who took centerstage after seizing the overall lead six stages into the Ronda Pilipinas International 2014.
Christie, 23, clocked three hours, 33 minutes, and 59 seconds, as he outsprinted Ebsen and Pouly of Infinite-Singha by a second going home. Ebsen and Pouly submitted identical times of 3:34:00 in the lap that started in Lucena City and ended in Antipolo City.
It was the second stage triumph for Christie after reigning supreme in the criterium race during the opening stage of the event held at the Quezon City Memorial Circle last week.
The spotlight however, belonged to Galedo, the stalwart of the 7-Eleven team who wrested the red jersey from erstwhile leader Santy Barnachea.
Galedo rallied all the way back from the fourth group to join a six-man pack composed of Junrey Navarra, Lloyd Lucien Reynante, reigning champion Irish Valenzuela, Marcelo Felipe, and Reimon Lapaza.
Galedo surpassed Barnachea on top with an aggregate clocking of 20:48.44, some 14 seconds ahead of closest pursuer Lapaza (20:48:44).
Incidentally, Galedo also grabbed the overall lead on the very same lap during the 2012 edition of Ronda Pilipinas en route to winning the title and the prize purse of P1 million that went with it.
“I guess I'm lucky here because this is the same stage I took the lead and eventually won the crown,” recalled Galedo in Filipino as he dedicated the effort to wife Grace and three-month old baby girl Paris.
Lapaza of Cycleline-Butuan Mindanao, was just as amazing as Galedo, clawing his way back to a Top 10 finish in the stage after suffering a punctured rear tire in the rusty railroads of Candelaria, Quezon.
“I didn't give up, I know this is a long stage,” said the 28-year-old Lapaza, a proud son of Butuan City who has impressed a lot after hovering from second to third and back to second overall in the last three stages.
Outside of the Filipino riders, it was the 36-year-old Pouly who gained the most as he found his way back among the Top 10 while likewise padding his lead in the King of the Mountain (KOM) race.
After crashing out of the Top 10, Pouly returns at No. 8 with a total time of 20:54.10, or about six minutes off the pace.
The Infinite-Singha skipper also hiked his KOM points to 26 after topping the second of two KOM laps in the stage - a Category 3 climb in Avida near Teresa, Rizal - for an imposing nine-point lead over a chasing Galedo.
“My goal is to get the KOM title,” said Pouly. “If I will be given the opportunity to win it all, I'll will not think twice and grab it.”
Mark Julius Bordeos also gained big in the standings after leaping from No. 5 to No. 3 following Friday’s race with a time of 20:50.49.
Barnachea, 36, couldn’t hang on to the red jersey as he fell to fourth place overall with clocking of 20:51:31.
Rounding up the Top 10 were Marcelo Felipe (20:52:26), Ronald Oranza (20:53:15), George Oconer (20:53:29), Vicmar Vicente (20:55:26), and Oscar Rindole (20:56:01).
Galedo's 7-Eleven continued to lord it over the team race with an aggregate time of 62:31:06, ahead of Navy-Standard (62:37:20) and Cycleline-Butuan MIndanao (62:40:00).