Cycling: Berjame triumphs in Stage 6 of Padyak Pinoy 2009

May 14, 2009 3:22 am 

VIGAN CITY, May 13 -—Lloyd Berjame, at 21, became the youngest stage winner of the ongoing Padyak Pinoy 2009 Tour of Champions so far as the top contenders preferred to stick together like ant balls in the uneventful Stage 6 on Wednesday.

Except for a few short portions of the national highway between Vigan City in Ilocos Sur and Laoag City in Ilocos Norte that are undergoing repair, the 160-km stage was run on a flat, well-paved road that denied everyone to make a significant dent in the individual overall general classification going into the last two crucial stages of the tour presented by Tanduay with Smart and Air21 as major sponsors and organized by the Dynamic Outsource Solutions, Inc.

Berjame, of team American Vinyl, crossed the finish by his lonesome with a clocking of three hours, 44 minutes and 55.621 seconds, 10 seconds ahead of a five-man second group led by his teammate Ronnel Hualda and U-Freight skipper Ericson Obosa.

“Natutuwa ako sa unang [stage] panalo ko,” said Berjame, of Gingoog, Misamis Oriental, who was with a six-rider group that broke away near the Laoag City U-turn and slowly increased its pace to leave the leaders in the third group — including Mail and More captain Warren Davadilla and Tanduay’s Renato Sembrano – and the fourth group that had most of the top 10 with MVP Yellow Jersey holder Santy Barnachea of ASir21.

Davadilla and company crossed 30 seconds after Berjame, while Barnachea’s bunch of 17 riders finished 1:11 later.

Chief commissaire Renato del Mundo noted how uneventful the stage was and said the field — now reduced to 70 from the starting list of 75 — is bracing for the crucial final two stages — Thurday’s 163-km climb from here to La Trinidad, Benguet, via Naguilian Road, and Friday’s trade mark “Ocho-ocho” or the 195-km Baguio-Baguio killer stage.

“The tour virtually starts from scratch Thursday,” said Del Mundo, a UCI continental commissaire who is assisted on the commissaire panel by Fernando Balang, Jun Lomibao, Carlos Gredonia and Juancho Ramores.

“Ang last two [stages] talaga ang pinakamahirap,” said Barnachea, who expects the leaders to again try to drag him down when he wears the MVP Yellow Jersey for the fourth straight day Thursday.

Barnachea has an accumulated time of 18 hours, 41 minutes and 42 seconds and kept his 1:33 lead over closest pursuer, Cargohaus skipper Frederick Feliciano, 2:00 over Ube Media’s Oscar Rindole, 2:17 over Burger King’s Baler Ravina and 2:44 over American Vinyl’s Lloyd Lucien Reynante.

The pride of Asingan, Pangasinan, Barnachea is a relatively strong climber. But he has to contend with Ravina, Feliciano and Reynante — all acknowledged strong climbers.

“Silang tatlo ang paborito sa akyatin,” he said.

Feliciano, runner-up in 2006, is picked to come out strong this time as the tour wraps up with the eighth stage Friday.

“Nakuha ko ang Baguio-Baguio noon [2006] pero hindi ko alam ang mangyayari kasi kulang ang preparasyon ko para sa taong ito,” said the Novo Ecijano, who has won a silver medal in the Southeast Asian Games in mountain bike’s cross-country.

Rindole agreed Stage 6 did not have the makings of a major change in the standings and has Ravina and Feliciano as his top rivals for the King of the Mountain honors.

“Nakapagpahinga kanina at yung No. 1 to 6 nagbantayan lang,” he said, adding “sa last two stages magkakatalo at nandyan sina Ravina at Feliciano.”

With Berjame and Hualda finishing 1-2 and Reynante completing the stage in the fourth group, American Vinyl managed to draw some attention in the team general classification which offers P500,000 to the winning squad.

American Vinyl ruled the stage in 11:15:38.884 to close in on overall leader Ube Media, whose lead from the Reynante-captained squad went from a little over seven minutes to only 49.956 seconds after Stage 6.

Columbia Sportswear kept third overall in the team race (22:50.018), while Tanduay climbed one rung up to fourth (25:39.559). Burger King also wrested fifth spot (28:12.828), Wow Magic Sing leapt from ninth to sixth (32:10.759). (PNA) scs/LOR/pr

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