VETERAN Cebuano rider Ramonito Espinosa dominated the first two stages to boost his drive for the overall individual title in Category 2 in the Bike United Tour of Subic 2014 that stated last Saturday at the Subic Bay Freeport.
Defending women’s champion Marella Vania Salamat of Franzia seems headed for a runaway victory in the distaff side even as Fitness First took the lead in the Team classification in this two-day bikefest organized by Bike King headed by Raul Cuevas and supported by Unilab Active Health, Aboitiz, Subic Holiday Villas, AbotizPower, Orbea, Pocari Sweat, Crystal Clear Purified Water, Shimano, OtterBox, Maxxis Tires and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA)-Tourism Department.
A total of 250 cyclists, including 37 females, are taking part this year with the 36-year old Espinosa showing his impressive form by topping the 20-k individual time trial and the 60-k road race.
Action opened early Saturday morning with Espinosa negotiating the ITT race in 28 minutes and 56 seconds to turn back the challenge posted by three Fitness First riders Jeremy Ponting (28:58), Mark Ellis (29:19) and Luis Gabino Urrutia (29:20) who settled for the next three spots in that order.
Stage two was disputed late afternoon of the same day and Espinosa showed legs of steel as he managed to keep pace with three other riders, that included Joey De Los Reyes of Bike King, that went on to finish the race with identical clocking of 2:00:39.
Armed with an accumulated time of 2:29:35, Espinosa now needs to maintain his level in the final Stage three Sunday morning to pocket the title.
The 90-kilometer race will put to test the climbing skills of the cyclists since the route will pass through hilly portions near Morong Gate.
Ponting and Urrutia loom as the potential threat to Espinosa with the former just six ticks behind at 2:29:41 while Urrutia is at third spot with 2:30:03 time.
Meanwhile, the 20-year old Salamat simply went unchallenged in the female side submitting fast times of 31:30 and 2:03:52 in the first two stages for an aggregated time at 2:35:21.
Veteran Doray Ellis of Boys Get Chicked is running second in the overall rankings but trails Salamat by more than 14 minutes at 2:50:50 while former national cyclist Marita Lucas of Team David’s Salon is at third spot with 2:50:58.
Fitness First is pacing the Team event with 7:29:47 but their riders should do well in the final stage to downplay the challenge coming from Sante Barle Cycling Team, which is ranked second with 7:34:09 clocking. Unilab Active Health is at third place with 7:57:20 time.
Dexter Llamas of Von Dutch is also eyeing to curve his name in the Category 3 having accumulated a total time after two races at 2:29:01.
He is a minute and 41 seconds ahead of Christopher Lobaton of Shell V-Power Nitro + (2:30:42) thus Llamas performance in the final stage will determine his bid to win his category.