Sports Eye

A different 2018 Le Tour de Filipinas

By Jesus A. Garcia, Jr.


THE 2018 Le Tour de Filipinas (LTdF) bikefest is already in progress. And, after five years of skipping our province’s national roads and importantly as a lap terminal, a policy that puzzled me, the organizers finally decided to touch again the hearts of the province’s cycling aficionados and selected for this year the capital town of Lingayen as the third stage finish from Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya, and also the starting point for the fourth and grand finish in Baguio City.

Like in the last eight years, the LTdF ninth edition will be participated in by 85 professional riders (five members each team) from Australia, Great Britain, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Ukraine, United States, and Asia’s continental giants like Iran, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan and the host Philippines, to name some.

Unlike the annual Ronda Pilipinas Bikathon, LTdF is one of Asia’s accredited professional multi-stage bicycle road races being sanctioned by the world governing cycling organization, Cycliste Internationale (UCI). LTdF invites foreign cyclists to participate in order to earn points to bag a berth in the annual world championships and the coming 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games as mandated by UCI.

The bikefest locally called then as “Padyak Pinoy” governed by the national cycling body PhilCycling which was not recognized by UCI then, the organizers led by PhilCycling president Bert Lina elevated the bikefest status in 2010, changed its name to Le Tour de Filipinas and succeeded in inviting overseas cyclists to participate with the blessing of UCI. David McCann of Belfast, Ireland won the first edition.

The bikefest’s third edition (2012) was won by our very own Baler Ravina of Asingan. The second Filipino to win the prestigious race was John Mark Lexer Galedo of Quezon City in 2014. From 2015 to 2017, the foreigners dominated the event. Last year’s champion was Jai Crawford of Australia in a dramatic finish. Three-day overall leader Daniel Whitehouse of UK succumbed to the aggressive former Australian national team member Crawford, 33, in the punishing 207-kilometer fourth and final stage that started in Daet, Camarines Norte and ended in Lucena City, Quezon province. He lost by just 28 seconds.

Unfortunately, no Filipino rider landed in the top ten overall last year. Only Dagupan City’s five-year resident and son-in-law Edgar Nieto of Spain placed sixth, 1:02 minutes adrift. Philippines’ best bet Galedo finished 14th and Nueva Ecija son Rustom Lim whose father is from San Quintin, Pangasinan, landed 17th.

For sure it will be a different tale for this year’s LTdF, because of the route and the terrain. The men will be separated from the boys during the Lingayen-Baguio City via Kennon Road stage. Remember, champions are made or broken in long and tough mountain climbing. And that’s Kennon Road. So expect the unexpected.

The bikefest will start on May 20 in Quezon City and will end in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija.  It will be Cabanatuan City to Bayombong in the second leg before hitting Lingayen for the third terminal. Hopefully, one of our elite cyclists led by champ Ronald Oranza, Jay Lampawog, Bonijoe Martin of Villasis, brothers Joshua and Daniel Ven Cariπo of Mangaldan, Dominic Perez of Sto. Tomas and Edgar Nieto of Dagupan City, will accomplish what Ravina and Galedo did. Let’s watch, wait and see. See you in Lingayen on May 22 and 23.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK:  Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love. 1 CORINTHIANS: 13-14.

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