KIWI Jason Christie of CCN Continental Team bared his fangs early and ruled the 66-kilometer Stage One criterium of the Ronda Pilipinas International 2014 that started and ended at the Quezon City Memorial Circle yesterday.
Christie, 23, won everything the stage has to offer, sweeping the two intermediate sprints and topping the first of this 14-stage race by clocking two hours, seven minutes, and 46 seconds.
"I'm happy to perform well because this is my first race for CCN," said Christie, who recently reigned supreme in the New Zealand Championships.
Cebu-Kalit Air Force's Oscar Rindole checked in second and 10 seconds slower with a time of 2:07.56, followed by Roadbike Phl's Marcelo Felipe at third place by besting Navy-Standard Insurance's George Oconer as the two came in with identical times of 2:08.25.
Navyman Lloyd Lucien Reynante initially came in second but was stripped immediately by race organizers after he was overlapped and joined the first group instead of returning to the race at the back.
Reynante, a veteran of many Tour and Ronda races still searching for the big one, tried to plead his case but to no avail and was sent near the bottom of the standings after a minute was added to his time.
Stage Two, a 181.8-km lap, resumes Sunday as it will wheels off in front of the Seaside Restaurant sign post in Muntinlupa City, thread through almost all major cities and towns of Cavite and some parts of Batangas, before finishing at the LBC in Premier Plaza Mall in Silang, Cavite.
Mark Galedo, the second edition champion and reigning Southeast Asian Games gold medallist in Maynmar last December, along with last year's winner Irish Valenzuela of Army sneaked into the top 10 at Nos. 9 and 10 with clockings of 2:08.32 and 2:08.46, respectively.
Cycline Butuan Mindanao's Riemon Lapaza led the early breakaway but melted away and managed only a fifth place finish in 2:08.27, ahead of Cebu-Air Force's Warren Davadilla, the second oldest participant here at 39 who wound up at No. 6 in 2:08.29.
Vicmar Vicente of Cycleline Butuan Mindanao came in at No. 7 in 2:08.29, while PLDT Maynilad's Rustom Lim ended up at No. 8 in 2:08.30.
Navy-Standard's Santy Barnachea, the first ever Ronda Pilipinas king, was in striking distance as he finished at No. 15 in 2:09.04, or over a minute off the pace.
The efforts of Rindole and Davadilla along with Elmer Navarro, who was at No. 12 overall (2:08.47), propelled Cebu-Kalit Air Force to the overall team lead with an aggregate clocking of 6:25.12, 48 seconds ahead of Cycleline Butuan Mindanao, and 1.24 minutes over CCN Continental Team.
The event is presented by LBC, the largest courier and cargo company, along with sponsors MVP Sports Foundation, NLEX, Maynilad, PLDT and Mitsubishi, Versa 2 Way Radio and Standard Insurance and minor sponsor Air Asia Zest, sanctioned by PhilCycling and backed by Shimano and Cannondale bikes, the Department of Tourism, and Phl National Police chief Allan Purisima.