Sports Eye

Historic 2018 Le Tour de Filipinas

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr


THE title of my column last week was “A different 2018 Le Tour de Filipinas”. Indeed, it was not only a different 2018 Le Tour de Filipinas (LTdF) cycling road battle among international racers but turned out to be historic for us in Pangasinan.

First, why different.

It was the only international race where Stage 1 had to be cancelled after restarting it five times. The supposed 157-kilometer first day of the road saga from Quezon City to Palayan City, Nueva Ecija, on May 20 had to be cancelled because of heavy traffic along the provincial national highways of Bulacan and Pampanga leading to Nueva Ecija.

After the fifth failed attempt to restart the race, Louise Jones of Australia, the race chief commissaire, decided to cancel the first stage. Naturally, the leading riders during those moments were so upset and disgusted but could not do anything because that’s what the world rulebook says. The LTdF is sanctioned by the world governing body UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) and all the UCI licensed participants must abide by the ruling.

The second day (May 21), a 158-kilometer run from Cabanatuan City to Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, via the dreaded Dalton Pass was seamless and our very own 2018 Ronda Pilipinas kingpin Ronald Oranza of Villasis outclassed the field of 79 other competitors to take the yellow jersey, symbolic of the race overall leadership.

On the third stage, I was at the finish line (Maramba Boulevard) in Lingayen together with the staff of the Pangasinan Sports Development and Management Council headed by executive officer Modesto Operania and Marlon Domalanta. We were joined by a pack of local cycling buffs who biked all the way from Bayambang, San Manuel, Mapandan, Mangaldan, Bugallon, Dagupan City, Sual and Labrador to boost the morale of our 12 Pangasinan contenders led by Oranza. The enthusiasm of the locals that met the speeding cyclists certainly paid off.

As prayed for, it was a strong 1-2-3 finish by Pangasinenses from Mangaldan: 25 year old El Joshua Cariño crossed the line first, with his younger brother Daniel Ven coming in a close second. Trailing the Cariño brothers not far behind was unheralded Merven Corpuz of Umingan who outdistanced the main peloton to finish third that drew loud cheers from crowd at the finish line.

Yes, history was made in the nine-year-old internationally flavored LTdF. For the first time, three Pangasinenses not only swept the podium at the third-stage finish but also grabbed the top three in overall leadership, with Joshua seizing the yellow jersey from his skipper and provincemate Oranza to lead by 1:41 minutes over Oranza. Oranza landed third in the general classification and Joshua’s sibling Daniel finishing second overall, just four seconds adrift.

The 154-kilometer race of Stage 4—the final stage—from Lingayen to Burnham Park in Baguio City via Kennon Road was a lung-busting and back-breaking saga won by Malaysian rider Tour de Langkawi veteran Metkel Eyob and Australian Drew Morey , the top two finishers. El Joshua checked in strong third. Eyob’s win, who was 10th in the general classification after the third stage with a far 2:42 minute deficit from Joshua, was unable to dislodge the new Mangaldan pride to finish second overall losing by just 40 seconds. El Joshua became the third Pangasinense to don the yellow jersey.

Villasis ace Oranza landed third overall, 2:38 behind Joshua. The younger and less-experienced Daniel Ven dropped from second overall to seventh.

Four other Filipinos landed on the top ten with former Ronda Pilipinas champs Jan Paul Morales of Marikina City and John Mark Galedo of Quezon City landed fourth and sixth, respectively. The others were Novo Ecijanos Marcelo Felipe and Ismael Gorospe, Jr., eighth and ninth, correspondingly.

Viva Filipinas y mayormente viva la provincia Pangasinan!  

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Keep my commands and live, and my law as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. PROVERBS: 7: 2-3

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