APARRI,  April 26, 2004
By Nelson Beltran ó Whether itís because of the day, the easy, short ride or whatever, the Air21 Tour Pilipinas 2004 pacesetters took a weekend breather and a Tour rookie, who is chasing a dream his father failed to achieve, grabbed the opportunity to bask in glory here yesterday.

Michael Ramos, a 19-year-old furniture worker if not riding his bike, made a solo breakaway finish in the 11th stage to this northernmost tip of Luzon island and quickly dedicated his triumph to his father Danilo whoís a frustrated Tour rider from Llanera, Nueva Ecija.

"Para sa tatay ko ito. Alam ko matutuwa siya dahil gusto niyang magkaroon ako ng karangalan sa Tour na hindi siya nagka-swerte na mapasali kahit na anong hilig nya sa bisikleta," said Ramos.

Thanks in part to the big gunsí decision to reserve their energy for another lung-busting stage to Laoag City in Ilocos Norte today, the Dole sixth man became the fifth rider from Nueva Ecija to win a stage in this 21-day, 17-stage bikathon after Frederick Feliciano from Aliaga and Arnold Primero, Oscar Fronda and Joel Calderon all from Guimba.

The STAR carrier Enrique Domingo, the Tour overall leader the last five days now, had the leisure ride he didnít enjoy Saturday because of the spill in Tumauini, Isabela, floating along behind the second-running Ryan Tanguilig practically from start to finish in this faraway Cagayan town where the Cagayan River, the Pacific Ocean and South China Sea meet.

"Kung ano yung mga ginawa niya sa akin pagkakuha ko ng yellow jersey, iyon ang ginawa ko kanina. Pasahero niya ako," said Domingo, enjoying a lead of four minutes and 27 seconds over his closest pursuer.

"Hindi ko iniisip na mahuhuli kami. Dahil siguradong hindi siya (Tanguilig) magpapahuli dahil baka kainan siya ng oras noong mga naghahabol sa kanya," added the 34-year-old national rider and Armyman representing the Postmen team in this Tour sponsored by Red Bull as the official energy drink, Summit, Pharex, Gatorade, Isuzu, Lactovitale and Elixir bike shop.

Domingo also took a rest in the fight for sprint points, believing he could afford to do so, having piled up a total of 38 points. Curiously, running next behind him is his assistant skipper Lloyd Reynante with 20.

"Pahinga muna dahil kwinekwenta ko yong lamang ko, mukhang safe na. Kapag medyo dumikit sila, sa kana uli ako kukuha," said Domingo.

Reynante, the Stage 10 winner, ruled the sprint race and placed second behind Ramos in the Tuguegarao-Aparri race.

"Actually, pasahero lang iyan si Ramos. Pero hindi mo rin masisisi na hindi makipagpalitan sa trangko dahil rookie at sumusukat ng lakas ng mga beterano," said Reynante, checking in 15 seconds behind the eventual stage winner who made his winning attack in the last seven kilometers.

Coming in third was Patrol 117ís Paterno Curtan, towing 14 riders, including reigning champion Arnel Quirimit, Stage 2 winner Merculio Ramos and erstwhile three-stage overall leader Frederick Feliciano.

Domingo and Tanguilig came in with the main peloton, clocking four minutes behind the winner in this stage covering 104 kilometers.

Thus, the top two kept their distance, with Ramos closing in, 6:26 off the pace at third. At fourth is Primero (8:55) followed by Tomas Martinez (9:01), Feliciano (9:22), Baler Ravina (10:58), Joseph Millanes (12:00), and Eusebio Quinones (12:23) to round out the Magic 10.

Domingo said he has the same plan in the 252km ride to Laoag although heís not ruling out a possible attack if the opportunity presents itself.

"Mahirap yang rutang iyan dahil kalaban mo hangin at winding roads. Pero medyo kabisado ko yan," said Domingo, who has won stage honors here in 1989.

He also remembered having a fight with a Korean rider in this route in 1998. "Nagalit yung Koreano dahil nagbababad ako sa likod niya. Dinuraan ako. Eh taga Pilipinas ako, papayagan ko ba iyon? Pinalo ko siya ng canteen sa ulo," he said.

With strong finishes by Reynante, rookie Leonardo Alingas and Domingo in the stage, the Postmen added some three minutes in their lead over the second-running Beer na Beer squad in the team race.

"Nakainan kami kahapon kaya pinaalalahanan ko ang mga teammates ko. Sabi ko sa kanila huag silang magpabaya dahil dito kami kikita," said Domingo in their bid for the P1 million top prize in the team championship.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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