VIGAN, Ilocos Sur— Ronald Lomotos of Navy-Standard Insurance claimed his first stage victory even as teammate Rudy Roque finished second and topped the two intermediate sprint races to seize the overall lead at the start of the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2017.
Lomotos edged Roque and rookie Archie Cardana to take the 158-kilometer Stage One victory while completing a 1-2-3 finish by Navy with identical clockings of three hours, 51 minutes and 47 seconds for his very first stage win since joining this annual race three years ago.
Roque, 25, though will wear the LBC red jersey, which is symbolic of the overall leadership after he gained a 15-second bonus, 10 of which for topping the two sprint races and the other five for ending up second in the stage going into today’s Stage Two criteriuim also here with an overall aggregate time of 3:51:32.
Roque, a native of Tibo, Bataan who was discovered by former Tour champion Renato Dolosa years back, said they took charge and broke away in the final 30 kilometers when their top rider, last year’s champion Jan Paul Morales, was caught in a bind and guarded heavily by rivals.
“Our strategy is to help Jan Paul (Morales) but we went to Plan B when we realized he was being guarded closely by our foes,” said Roque, who finished ninth in Ronda’s Inaugural edition six years ago, in Filipino.
For the 22-year-old Lomotos, he was just happy to win a stage in this 14-stage race staking P1 million to the champion courtesy of presentor LBC and in partnership with MVP Sports Foundation, Petron, Mitsubishi, Versa.ph, Partas, Maynilad, Standard Insurance, CCN, Bike Xtreme, NLEX, PhilCycling and 3Q Sports Event Management.
“I have been campaigning for three years now and I’m glad to have won my very first stage,” said Lomotos, who hails from San Felipe, Zambales.
Also making his presence felt was Cardana, who came out of nowhere to make it to the podium.
“He was supposed to race last year but missed it because he needed to undergo basic seaman course,” said Navy skipper Lloyd Lucien Reynante of the 21-year-old Cardana. “I have been bragging that he will make a big impact and I’m glad he didn’t disappoint me.”
Morales, who topped two of the three legs last year to emerge the overall winner, wound up 23rd with a clocking of 3:56:43, or a little less than five minutes off the pace.
While the young turks of Navy made good in the opening stage which started and ended in front of the provincial capitol here, Reynante ran into trouble and crashed in the first 30-km stretch of the race after he bumped into a documentation photographer from Ronda.
The 38-year-old Reynante wound up with some wounds on his knees and elbows and a hurting left hip while the photographer complained of back pains and both managed to finish the race.
Bike Extrme’s Jaybop Pagnanawon, son of 1986 Tour king Rolando, made his presence felt early and checked in at seventh in 3:55:00 while another favorite, Army-Kinetix Club’s Cris Joven, paced himself and finished 20th in 3:56:37.
Jay Lampawog, another of Navy’s under-23 riders, placed sixth in 3:55:00 to help power Navy to the overall lead in the team race.
Rounding out the top 10 were Go for Gold’s Ismael Grospe, Jr. (3:53:34), RC Cola-NCR’s Richard Nebres (3:54:52), Go for Gold’s Jonel Carcueva (3:55:00), Team Ilocos Sur’s Ryan Serapio (3:55:03) and Go for Gold’s Orlie Villanueva (3:55:07).
Trailing Navy in the team event were Go for Gold and host Ilocos Sur.