ALAMINOS, Pangasinan – PLDT-Spyder teammate Rustom Lim and Mark Julius Bonzo completed a one-two finish in Tuesday’s Stage 8 of the 2013 Ronda Pilipinas that saw Irish Valenzuela barely holding on to the overall lead at the end of the 183.4-kilometer race.
The 19-year-old Lim was with the first breakaway group that bolted from the main peloton 40 kms from the finish line, before launching his own attack approaching the final 20-km stretch to clinch his first lap victory.
The lap winner finished with a time of four hours, 17 minutes, and 23 seconds – 24 seconds ahead of Bonzo and seasoned rider Merculio Ramos of Team Tarlac.
Lim showed off his white-and-blue race jersey, and then raised his arms in triumph as he breasted the tape in front of the Alaminos City Hall here to the wild cheers of the crowd.
“Hindi ko po inaakala na makukuha ko itong lap na ito dahil plano lang namin na umatake muna,” said Lim, a native of Guimba, Nueva Ecija who comes from a family of farmers.
“Pero nung sinubukan kong kumawala, dun ko lang nakita na kaya ko pala kaya tinuloy-tuloy ko na at hindi ko na binitawan,” he added.
The 23-year-old Bonzo, whose fabled father Romeo and uncle Modesto were both Tour champions in 1983 and 1976, respectively, outsprinted Ramos to clinch runner-up honors, giving the crowd something to cheer about as the young rider hails from nearby Sual, Pangasinan.
"Masaya po kasi madami akong kamag-anak, kaibigan, at kakilala na nakita ko," said a smiling Bonzo.
Valenzuela, the star rider of LPGMA-American Vinyl, retained the symbolic LBC red jersey for the third straight day as he finished in the company of the 46-man peloton that submitted identical clockings of 4:18.32.
But the national team member saw his lead cut by more than half a minute by second running Ronald Oranza of PLDT-Spyder.
The 25-year-old Valenzuela has an aggregate time of 29:57.39, or just a minute and eight seconds ahead of the 20-year-old Oranza, who finished with the 30-man group that ended up in sixth spot, 31 seconds ahead of the overall leader (29:58.47).
Oranza, who topped the Stage Seven Tarlac-Subic race on Monday, admitted he's starting to gain confidence every day.
“Kaya ko pala, tingin ko mas malakas akong sprinter kesa sa kanya,” said Oranza, referring to Valenzuela.
Cris Joven, Valenzuela’s LPGMA-American Vinyl teammate, remained in third spot with a time of (30:01.38) followed by Ronald Gorantes of Roadbike Philippines (30:01.51), and Santy Barnachea of Navy-Standard (30:02.54).
The individual feat of its riders also allowed PLDT-Spyder to gain on leader LPGMA-American Vinyl in the team race.
PLDT Spyder now just trails LPGMA by 56 seconds after clocking 90:20.03. LPGMA has a total time of 90:19.07.