Santy Barnachea hangs tough to retain lead in Ronda Pilipinas
Rustom Lim raises his arm in triumph after ruling stage four of Ronda Pilipinas 2015 presented by LBC.

TARLAC CITY--National team standout Rustom Lim took Stage Four honors on Tuesday even as Santy Barnachea kept the overall lead in the Ronda Pilipinas 2015 presented by LBC after surviving determined attempts by rivals George Oconer, Jr. and Cris Joven to topple him on top.

Representing PSC-PhilCycling, Lim, 21, made his move in the final 200 meters to rule the 199-kilometer stage, the longest in this six-day, eight-stage race that started in Malolos, Bulacan and ended in front of the Provincial Capitol here.

Lim finished the race with a time of four hours, 43 minutes, and 41 seconds.

He bested Jan Paul Morales of Navy-Standard Insurance and Oconer, his PSC-PhilCycling teammate, for lap honor after the two checked in with identical time of 4:43.43.

Upon reaching the finish line, Lim, a proud son of Guimba, Nueva Ecija, raised his hand in triumph as he was met by a loud and appreciative Tarlac crowd.

“It's fun to win a stage again,” said Lim, winner of the Olongapo stage last year.

The ageless Barnachea meanwhile, hung onto the red LBC jersey symbolic of the lead after he finished 39th with a time of 4:44.01.

Thanks to his second place finish, the 23-year-old Oconer managed to cut some precious seconds off Barnachea's lead as he’s now just 7.37 minutes off the pace from a flat eight-minute deficit the day before.

Joven, an Armyman, chopped 10 seconds off Barnachea's lead after finishing 13th to 19th in the stage with clocking of 4:43.51.

A consistent top 10 finisher but never the big one, Joven made an attempt to break away from the pack halfway through the stage. 

But he couldn't find an ally to sustain his pace, allowing Barnachea and his Navymen to catch up with him.

Fancied Mark Galedo, the 7-Eleven skipper who is now No. 15 in the overall standings (14:38.10), also made his move approaching the ascents in Laur, but his effort also came for naught due to lack of support.

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“I've tried,” said the 29-year-old Galedo, who is expected to make his move in the dreaded Baguio climb.

After four gruelling stages, Barnachea is still unperturbed at the helm with a total time of 14:21.01 followed by Oconer and Joven with aggregate clockings of 14:28.38 and 14:29.20, respectively.

Rounding up the top 10 in the overall standings were Navy's Ronald Oranza (14:29.31), Morales (14:30.34) and Mark Jhon Camingao (14:33.20), Cebu-VMobile's Rey Nelson Martin (14:36.05), Navy's Lloyd Lucien Reynante (14:36.06), Army's Irish Valenzuela (14:36.18), and Cebu-VMobile's Elmer Navarro (14:36.18).

Outside Barnachea, the other colored jersey wearers were Morales (sprint), 7-Eleven's Baler Ravina (KOM), Camingao (Under-23), and 7-Eleven's Jay Lampawog (juniors).

The race is presented by LBC and supported by major sponsors the Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation, Petron and Mitsubishi and minor sponors Cannondale, Standard Insurance, Tech1 Corp., Maynilad, NLEX and NLEX Cycling and sanctioned by PhilCycling under Cavite Congressman Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino with TV5 and Sports Radio as media partners.

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