IT was a Tour marathon Victor Espiritu
really thought he
had little chance of winning.
was, already 31 years of age, up against the big guns of yesterday, todayand tomorrow, and unfit one and a half weeks before the start of the race becauseof a flu-stricken, aching body.
found the will and the way to overcome the odds and come face to face withhis
destiny, and once more proved that the heart of a champion can't easily betorn apart.Espiritu
formally laid claim to the Padyak Pinoy 2007 Summer Showdown crownyesterday in a triumph as historic as his
first one, becoming only the eight man to win thecountry's premier summer saga on wheels twice by a margin that was one of theslimmest.
"Ito talaga yung sinasabi ko na kung hindi ukol, hindi bubukol," said Espiritu
,who won the Tour title in 1996, his
rookie year."Mga one and a half weeks beforeng karera magang-maga ang lalamunan ko, masakit ang kasu-kasuan ko, hindi makapag-bike.
"Tanong ko sa sarili ko,'pano na ito, malapit na ang Tour?Bahala na, disiplina na lang.'"
No pain, no gain.
symbolic yellow jersey glistened despite the uncooperative rainy weatherconditions, Espiritu
humbly accepted the individual championship trophy in simple
In winning the Tour
in 33 hours, two minutes and 38 seconds, Espiritu
won oversecond overall Baler Ravina by a mere 29 seconds, the second known smallest
, who was met by wife Christine, collected P50,000 as individual champion - the smallest prize in two decades - but still ended up a big winner by ruling theKing of the Mountain worth P20,000 plus the share he
will get from the P500,000team purse.
Ravina and Valenzuela - two riders Espiritu had great respect for giving him a goodfight - pocketed P30,000 and P20,000, respectively.Cosack Vodka
failed in its bid to become the first team to repeat as champion,setting for runner-up honors one minute annd 23 seconds behind Espiritu's
teamand winning P400,000.
None of them proved equal to Espiritu
"Sa totoo lang, ramdam na natin ang pagod sa Tour," said Espiritu
, 26th in yesterday's
was not really the same man who conquered the Cordillera Mountainswith relative ease in the past.He
failed to make a podium finish in the killer lapthis time, but finished fourth, enough to steal the outcome of the event.Espiritu
held the yellow jersey twice.He
wore it after the second lap when he
, the individual overall winner who towed the rest of the team
JOINS TOUR'S TWO-TIME CHAMPS
, who had the 2007 Padyak Pinoy title in the bag after the
this but I'm happy with this second win)," said Espiritu
, who won his
firsttitle in the famed Marlboro Tour as a reed-thin rookie.Espiritu
, who carries the RP flag in major international competitions, finishedthe 10-lap, 11-day odyssey on wheels with an overall time of 33 hours,2 minutes, 38 seconds.
The victory was worth P50,000.But Espiritu
will go home with more than that,counting his
P18,000 in lap earnings, P28,000 for a third King of the Mountainaward, and a share from the P500,000 prize for his
victorious Wow MagicSing team.
"It's for my family and my kid's education.The rest I'll save," addedEspiritu
, who can now look forward to December's Southeast Asian Games inThailand where he
will seek a second gold medal.
..."I will definitely go for it next year," said Espiritu of a rare three-peat.
, Ravina and Valenzuela crossed the line in 1:52:4.94 with the biggroup of riders that finished from 16th to 52nd places.
"It was really my plan to float along with them," said Espiritu
ALAMINOS CITY, PANGASINAN - Former champion Victor Espiritu
out-pedaled defending champion Santy Barnachea in a one-on-one spirit to the finish to win the Stage 3and keep his
hold on the yellow jersey of the 2007 Padyak Pinoy, which made a stop yesterday in this bustling city renowned as the home of the world-famous
and Bacnachea finished the 166-kilometer race in three hours, 48 minutes and 23.95 seconds, 51 ticks ahead of the 5 man chase group headed by Cool Pap's
...Espiritu, who hails from Malabon City and is sergeant of the Philippine Army, was with peloton for the greater part of the race, which started in Cabanatuan City.He
didn't catch the lead pack until the tour's first climb in the 116-kilometer-highzigzag road in Sual town.
"Niremate ko lang 'yung KOM(King of the Mountain points), tapos nung nakita ko na tinuloy ni Santy 'yung break-away, sumama na ako," explained the 1996 titlist.Espiritu
did not just keep the tour's leadership, he
also widened his
lead from four to 9 seconds over his
closest pursuer in the person of Barnachea.
"Balewala pa 'yan, di pa seryoso yang gap ko, malayo pa ang karera," he
said."Depensa muna ako sa mga susunod na lap, sama lang muna sa malaking grupo."Cool Pap grabs team lead
ALAMINOS,Pangasinan - Cool Pap
put riders in the top 15 finishers of yesterday's third stage of 2007 Tanduay Padyak Pinoy from Cabanatuan to here to wrest the team lead from defending champion Cossack Vodka.
Oscar Rendole was third to Victor Espiritu
and Santy Barnachea in the 166-kilometer journey, while Baler Ravina was 12th and Bernanrd Luzon as Cool Pap
totaled 15 hours, 18 minutes and 34.292 seconds, second for the stage behind team lap winner