ILIGAN CITY – Rudy Roque of LPGMA-American Vinyl came through with the ride of his life as he seized lap honors and threatened overall leader Santy Barnachea after the third stage of Ronda Pilipinas Monday.
Roque, 21, went on attack mode early on in the 137.9-kilometer race that began in Pagadian City. He towed the lead pack until the final 30 kilometers when he broke away for good and arrived solo at the finish line here.
He finished the lap with a time of three hours, 17 minutes and 51 seconds, ahead of Ronald Oranza of PLDT-Spyder and two-time Tour champion Warren Davadilla of Y101 FM-Cebu.
“Umatake agad ako nang maaga tapos tiniis ko na lang na kapitan hanggang sa huli para makuha itong stage,” said Roque, a graduate of Olongapo National High School, who lives in the mountains of Tipo, Bataan.
It was the third career lap win for Roque since topping the Ormoc-Tacloban, and Metro Manila criterium in last year’s Ronda race.
The win was also enough to propel him to third place overall with a total time of 9:57.13, about two minutes off two-day leader Barnachea of Navy-Standard.
Barnachea retained the red jersey with a clocking of 9:54.19, while behind him is Tomas Martinez of Team Tarlac with a time of 9:56.20.
Roque was quick to downplay his win, stressing it’s too early to celebrate in the 16-leg, 21-day bikathon that offers a cool P1 million purse to the champion.
“Gusto ko rin mag-champion pero maaga pa at marami talagang malalakas na kasali dito, mahirap magsaya ng maaga,” said Roque, who idolizes reigning champion Mark Galedo and many-time national team stalwart Lloyd Lucien Reynante.
Oranza, a 20-year-old proud son of Villasis, Pangasinan, finished second behind Roque (3:18.03) as he edged out three others for runner-up honor including the 38-year-old Davadilla.
Davadilla’s strong showing at the end of the stage was proof he still has something left in the tank.
“Meron pa naman tayong natitirang asim,” said Davadilla, a member of the Philippine Air Force.
Stage 4 will be the 134.2 km. Cebu-Cebu race on Wednesday as Ronda takes a break on Tuesday when it travels via ferry from here to the Queen City of the South.