regains yellow jersey
By Chito de la Vega, Philippine Daily Inquirer
BAGUIO CITY (via PLDT)—Victor Espiritu repeated a glorious finish in this 13th stage, the brutal Baguio-Baguio lap, but it was the amazing return of Warren Davadilla as overall leader of the Marlboro Centennial Tour which electrified the big crowd at Burnham Park.
Just like last year, Espiritu again had a Hong Kong rider matching him pedal for pedal going into the last punishing climb at Kennon Road.
But unlike Wong Kam Po a year ago, Man Wai Chung ran out of steam near the infamous ''hospital slide'' in front of the Baguio General Hospital, setting up Espiritu's solo grand finale.
Espiritu covered the 200-km ''killer loop'' in six hours, six minutes and six seconds to remain the Tour's undisputed king of the mountain. When he won the title as a rookie in 1996, Espiritu finished third here.
Chung came in 36 seconds later.
Placido Valdez, the Nueva Ecija skipper who led at the first climb, finished third 2:45 later.
Riding right behind him was Davadilla, who burst into a big smile after crossing the finish line well aware that he was back on top because Arnel Quirimit, the man who disrobed him of the overall leader's yellow jersey the day before was nowhere in sight.
Carlo Guieb, the other feared mountain climber was also left behind, coming in 3:15 after Davadilla.
Quirimit hobbled home over 12 minutes behind Davadilla.
A mixture of pain, exhaustion and disappointment was written all over Quirimit's face after the race. After dismounting from his bike, Quirimit paused and took off the yellow jersey and walked without his shirt toward the riders' tent.
This has been the sad story of Quirimit's career since 1994, he always gets the yellow jersey in blazing fashion only to lose it a day or two later. He saw his mother behind the metal barrier and approached her holding back his tears.
Davadilla, on the other hand, was all smiles and bubbly as he was looking for his fiancee, Edermina Tumala, a registered midwife from Karuhatan, Valenzuela. Davadilla was looking forward to seeing her when the Tour was to finish on Sunday but she surprised him by showing up before the race.
Davadilla now enjoys an impressive seven-minute, 56-second over second running Guieb, while Quirimit slipped to third behind by 8:22.
said losing the yellow jersey was the best thing that happened to him in
the Tour. Wearing the Philippine Tricolors, their red, white and blue uniform
made him feel stronger and lighter.