Victor Espiritu after
flashes in stage 5;
Davadilla still in the lead
Philippine Daily Inquirer
ANTIPOLO, Rizal—Victor Espiritu struck like lightning in the last five kilometers of a race dominated by the big guns for the first time and won Stage 5 yesterday of the Marlboro Centennial Tour.
The defending champion, winner of the Tour's Stage 3, flashed to the finish as the bikathon returned to the metropolis after a short stint in the Visayas to the cheers of thousands of fans here.
Espiritu floated with an eight-man lead pack from the first mountain climb off San Pablo City, revving up when his rivals were all but spent after the third climb in the Antipolo hills to become the first two-stage winner of the 16-stage, P9.2 million annual Tour.
Despite his second victory, Espiritu remained outside the Top 10, and three-day overall leader Warren Davadilla, also of the Philippine team, remained on top with a lead of five minutes, 27 seconds over another RP team member, Arnel Querimit, after five stages of the multi-stage summer spectacle.
It was another impressive show for the Philippine team--which remained in 1-2 position in the overall standings and padded its lead to 18 minutes over Pangasinan in the team standings.
Enrique Domingo was seventh overall, 16 minutes off the pace, while Carlo Jasul was 10th, 19 minutes behind.
For the first time, the big names--1993-94 champion Carlo Guieb, 1992 and 1995 titlist Renato Dolosa, Tang Xuezhong of China, defending champion Wong Nam Po of Hong Kong and Espiritu, made a collective effort to close in on the leaders and ran the show as Davadilla occupied the middle of the column race for most of the 137.7 km race from the hometown of Jose Rizal in Calamba, Laguna to this town in front of the Lores Plaza.
Guieb, who finished second, barely 41 seconds behind Espiritu, jumped to sixth, and is now only 13 minutes behind Davadilla, but Dolosa remained outside the Top 10 despite finishing barely 47 seconds at joint third.
Hoong remained unshaken in the Top 5, still 5:68 off the pace at fourth in a tie with Santy Barnachea of Pangasinan.
The race found another casualty in China's Niao Yechen who crashed to the ground on a downhill drive and was forced to ride the ambulance. Another Chinese, Feng Luanyun, had a spill with Central Luzon Noli del Rosario, but both finished the race.
stage today is a 199.8 kilometer race from the Quezon City Memorial Circle
to Cabanatuan CitY.
|Philippine Daily Inquirer||