Naga City—For 27-year-old Jerry Aquino, everything went according to plan. Team Scratch It picked the right moment to prevail in a skirmish between riders from 7-Eleven and Philippine Navy-Standard Insurance.
And, Aquino fought the biggest fight of his career in a five-kilometer stretch of flat road inside Naga City to claim his first-ever stage win yesterday in Stage 3 the LBC Ronda Pilipinas Anniversary race.
Aquino sneaked past Navyman Jan Paul Morales and El Joshua Carino, and 7-Eleven bet James Mendoza during last stretch to reach the Panganiban Street finish line in two hours, 47 minutes and 12 seconds.
Aquino’s efforts gave him the red jersey (overall individual honors), with an overall clocking of nine hours, 43 minutes and 39 seconds, with Bordeos relegated in second spot, some seven seconds behind.
His familiarity in the roads leading to Naga helped Aquino get his timing right.
“Kabisado ko rin kasi iyung ruta. At alam ko rin kasi kung sino ang babantayan ko,” said Aquino, who was with an 11-man pack that arrived together at stage 3’s destination.
Stage 3 is a 119-kilometerlong descent from Legazpi City to Naga City.
Go For Gold rider Ronnel Hualda took second spot, followed by Army-Bicycology’s Dominic Perez in third.
Mendoza and Morales followed in fourth and fifth, with Elmer Navarro, stage 1 winner Mark Julius Bordeos, Carino, Christian Timbang, Arjay Kaul and Lorenzo Rellosa joining Aquino in the lead pack.
“Dalawa kami ni Kuya Pot (Ronnel Hualda) ang nili-leadout nila. Pero mas maganda ang kundisyon ko,” said Aquino.
Navyman George Oconer, who was 16th, moved up to third and fourth with 711 bet Rustom Lim.
Hualda’s second place finish towed Go For Gold to the stage team crown, with 7-Eleven and Bicycology-Army in second and third.
7-Eleven’s second place performance vaulted them into the lead of the overall team classification with a total time of 36 hours, eight minutes and 59 seconds.
The Navymen now trail them by 2:31.
And this was after riders from both teams continuously skirmed after leaving Sorsogon City and made their way to Dios Mabalos town, which is a municipality next to Naga City.
“Pinanood lang namin sila (711 vs Navy) kasi sila yung naglalaban. sumunod lang kami sa likod. nung pumatag yun talaga pinaghandaan namin, added Aquino.
Morales, on the other hand, did not make any significant moves after he took the sprint honors after traversing a 1.7-km course along Tiwi, with Team Nueva Ecija’s Arjay Peralta in second. Mendoza towed 7Eleven to third.
“Medyo intense talaga kasi yung breakaway nagaagawan sa pwesto. muntik pang may semplangan. at least nagawa namin yung plano namin,” Aquino stated.