BACOLOD CITY -- Boots Ryan Cayubit settled for fifth place in the third and final leg, but enough to emerge champion in the Visayas qualifying leg of Ronda Pilipinas 2015 presented by LBC which started and ended at the Provincial Capitol here.
The 23-year-old Cayubit hang on with the lead peloton to finish with the same time as Stage 3 winner Mark Julius Bonzo of Team LBC-MVP Sports Foundation with three hours, seven minutes, and 17 seconds.
Cayubit finished with an aggregate winning time of 12:37.01, besting 7-Eleven teammate Marcelo Felipe and Team Cebu's Rey Martin for the title.
Felipe and Martin clocked 12:40.07 and 12:42.35, respectively, to finish second and third.
“My hardwork has finally paid off. I hope to sustain this in the championship round,” said Cayubit in Filipino.
Cayubit received the P50,000 champion purse and earned a spot in the championship round scheduled Feb. 22-27 from Paseo Greenfield City in Sta. Rosa, Laguna to the mountaintop of Baguio.
Bonzo, 25, shared some of the spotlight with Cayubit as he outsprinted everyone in a frantic finish to win a second leg victory in five Ronda appearances.
It was one proud performance for the young Bonzo, whose late fabled father Romeo won the 1983 Marlboro Tour title.
“This is a triubute to my father,” said Bonzo, a member of the national team.
The race though was not spared with anxious moments as three riders including 7-Eleven's Baler Ravina and national women's team standout Avegail Rombaon and a motorcycle-riding race marshall figured in a crash two kilometers into the finish.
Fortunately, all of them only suffered abrasions.
Rounding up the top 10 in the three-stage qualifier that started in Dumaguete City were Army's Irish Valenzuela (12:43.23), Ravina (12:43.27), Cris Joven (12:45.03), Leonel Dimaano (12:43.03), Junrey Navarra, (12:50.35) and Alvin Benosa (12:54.38).
The race goes up North on Monday with the staging of the Luzon qualifier in Tarlac City and in Antipolo the following day.
Qualifiers will moved on to the championship round where they will be joined by reigning champion Reimon Lapaza, national team members headed by Mark Galedo and a composite European team in the fight for the whooping P1 million purse.
The race is being presented by LBC and supported by major sponsors the Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation, Petron, and Mitsubishi and minor sponsors Cannondale, Standard Insurance, Tech1 Corp., Maynilad and NLEX and sanctioned by the PhilCycling under Cavite Congressman Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino with TV5 and Sports Radio as media partners.