BIGTIME cycling returned to Mangaldan last Sunday and a bigtime rider emerged victorious in a most convincing fashion.
1996 Marlboro Tour king and Tour de Langkawi veteran Victor Espiritu coasted along tactically in the first four of eight laps, then spurted alone in the fifth round and never looked back to finish first in the annual and star-studded Mangaldan bikefest, dubbed this year as Werweran Katorse.
Espiritu, 31, of Malabon City, also the winner in 2003, completed the 144 kilometers road battle in 3 hours, 26 minutes and 18 seconds to pocket the P10,000 top prize and a trophy plus a special purse of P1,700 for his summit sprint wins.
San Fabian marquee rider Sherwin Carrera, also a Tour de Langkawi veteran, outsprinted the second pack composed of four cyclists to land second and bagged P6,000 and a trophy plus P1,900 for his summit sprint victories.
Elmo Ramos, Jr. , 2003 Tour Pilipinas first runner-up and Tarlac City native but now a Binalonan resident, checked in third to net P3,000 plus a trophy, while San Carlos City ace Enrique Domingo and San Fabian diminutive rider Rene Esteban finished fourth and fifth to net P6,300 and P5,600, respectively, plus a medal each.
Carrera, Ramos, Domingo and Esteban had an identical time of three hours, 28 minutes and 30 seconds.
Rounding up the top ten that received P1,000 and a medal each are: Lucien Llyod Reynante, 6th; Ericson Obosa, 7th; Wilfredo Calosa, 8th; defending champion Reynaldo Navarro, 9th; and Ariel Flores, 10th.
There were 78 starters and 47 survived the flat and well-paved Mangaldan-San Jacinto-San Fabian-Mangaldan circuit route. Eleventh to 47th placers received an incentive price of P200 each,
In the master-executive category, Excellent Noodles proprietor Alex Billan of Parañaque City outpedaled his two breakaway partners in the last three hundred meters to bag the P4,000 top prize plus trophy and a gift certificate worth P1,000. Billan negotiated the 72 kilometer four laps in one hour 50 minutes and 48 seconds.
Aniceto Lucero of Malasiqui finished second, winning P3,000 while Dagupeno Wilson Rosete landed third to earn P2,000. Former RP rider Esteban Dacayo of San Fabian and two-time Olympian Mangaldanon Jazy Garcia checked in fourth and fifth worth P1,200 and P1,000.
The five finishers were also given an incentive prize of gift certificates worth P1,000, complimentsof Magic Stores.
In the pedicab division, exclusively for Mangaldan drivers who raced through an 11-kilometer track, Danilo Marcella topped the event for P1,000. Macario Marcella was second and won P700, Eddie delos Santos, third for P500, while Romulo Flores and Ricardo Flores landed fourth and fifth, respectively.
The five also received P1,000 worth of gift certificates each courtesy of Magic Stores.
The whole day pedal-by-pedal road classic was covered live over Aksyon Radyo Pangasinan 1161 KHz AM and RGMA Super Radyo 1548 KHz AM.
The three events were sponsored by friends of Mayor Herminio A. Romero here and abroad, under the assistance and aegis of the town’s fiesta executive committee chair and alderperson Judith Gubatan, Philippine Navy retired commander Pete de Vera, Johnny Valencia, Dr. Butch Ydia and Jazy Garcia. — JAG Jr.