keeps lead: Luzon wins stage
by Frederick M. Nasiad, Manila times Contributing editor
CABANATUAN CITY--Bernard Luzon found out there was no place like home in a stage everyone considered as boring and uneventful.
The 22-year-old Luzon leaned on his familiarity of the 123.6-km Quezon Memorial Circle to Cabanatuan City via Lagro sixth stage to enjoy a moment of glory in the 1998 Marlboro Centennial Tour ng Pilipinas here.
Passing through his hometown San Leonardo, two towns away from here, and with only five riders tailing him, Luzon put on a show and stepped on the gas to reach the finish line in front of the Capitol building first where fellow Novo Ecijanos cheered him on "Ibig ko talagang manalo. Kahit laspag na ako, tinuloy ko pa rin," said Luzon, popularly known here as 'So,' his nickname. "Nakakahiya kasi sa mga kababayan ko kung hindi tayo manalo."
Joining Luzon in the spearhead group of the 71-man peloton were Central Luzon's Dominador Tacutacu and Gregorio Bergonio, Metro Manila's Paterno Curtan, Central Luzon's Noli del Rosario and Northern Luzon's Jessie Bacudo.
Curtan, Del Rosario and Bacudo, however, took a spill six kilometers to finish while trying to avoid a child who was crossing the road. The unknown girl was unharmed and the three riders rejoined the second chase group to finish one minute and 25 seconds behind Luzon, a four-year Tour veteran.
The narrow, busy streets of Bulacan and the flat and boring plains leading to the finish did not cause any changes in the top 10. Warren Davadilla hung on to the yellow jersey and the overall lead for the fifth straight day.
"Nababantayan ako ngayon eh," said Davadilla, who finished 40th yesterday, one minute and 57 seconds behind. "Nagpahinga na lang po ako kanina, hindi ko na lang pinilit."
Double stage winner Victor Espiritu also had a "rest day" yesterday.
"Rest day ko ho ngayon. Napagod din ho kasi ako kahapon (Tuesday's Laguna to Antipolo fifth stage) tsaka mahirap din ho kasi bukas (today's Cabanatuan to Aritao to San Jose via Dalton Pass seventh stage)," said Espiritu, the 1996 Tour champion. "Susubukan ko hong kumain (sa standing) bukas (today) dahil puro ahon ho eh."
The 23-year-old Espiritu finished 26th yesterday, one minute and 57 seconds behind but jumped a notch from 19th to 18th in the overall standings.
Also preparing for today's difficult stage passing through Dalton Pass in Mt. Caraballo to his home province Nueva Vizcaya and back is two-time Tour king Carlo Guieb, who is currently in sixth place overall, 13 minutes and 50 seconds behind Davadilla.
"Doon na lang ako babawi," said Guieb, who used to train in this area.
placing only 9th in yesterday's race, the Philippine team remains on top
with a good 17 minutes and 18 seconds lead over second placer Pangasinan
and a 28-minute and 42-second advantage over Malaysia, the only team which
remains with an intact lineup.