Sports Eye

Pangasinan cyclists’ ups-and-downs in the last decade

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.

YEAR 2019 is gone. We are now at the start of third decade of the century.

The last decade had its ups-and-downs for our national Pangasinan athletes but fortunately, the best for them was last year when Philippines regained the overall championship in the recently concluded 30th Southeast Asia Games (SEAG) 2019 that Juan dela Cruz hosted with the participation of our local athletes. Unlike the 2017 SEAG in Malaysia in which the Philippines finished a humiliating sixth place overall, the 2019 version was an eventful and fruitful year for our country – topping the 11-nation biennial meet with impressive and amazing 149 gold medal harvest, far better than Philippines 2005 hosting with its 113 gold to top the games. It was really a big improvement in stature for our country and we should doff our hats to them!

In the national cycling scenario, our Pangasinan road racers had their ups and downs in the two annual multi-stage national bikathon in the last decade: the UCI sanctioned Le Tour de Filipinas and the Ronda Pilipinas. Santy Barnachea of Umingan won the inaugural 12-day Ronda in 2011 and the 10-day 2015 edition. Barnachea was the first rider to win the Ronda twice and the only four-time national Tour champion in the Philippines. Villasis-son Ronald Oranza won the 2018 version and finished second last year behind 2005 Tour de France third runner-up Francisco Mancebo of Spain. It was Mancebo’s first race in the Philippines. Without Mancebo, Oranza would have been the second back-to-back winner of Ronda after Jan Paul Morales of Marikina City (2016-2017) and the third rider to win the Ronda twice after Barnachea and Morales.

Our Pangasinan pedal-pushers at the Le Tour de Filipinas (LdF) over the last decade also had inconsistent performance but they continued to maintain its image in Philippine cycling that this cycling-crazy province is still the premiere and producing leader of Philippine national cyclists and champions in particular. No doubt about that.
Baler Ravina of Asingan was the first Pangasinense to win the four-day internationally sanctioned LdF. Sixth years later, my town mate Mangaldañon Joshua Cariño captured the throne in 2018. His win catapulted him to be one of the eight members of the national road race squad.  Together with Oranza, they both won bronze medal each in the 2019 SEA Games team road events.

A third multi-stage national bikefest is set to organized this year and to be run via a nationwide format. According to my reliable source,  one of the top honchos of the said race but doesn’t want (yet) to be identified at this time, the 15-day stage race will start on April 8 in Davao City for the Mindanao leg, then to Visayas islands in the province of Cebu, Luzon from Sorsogon up to the northern provinces, and will finally end in Baguio City on April 28. The fellow who will direct the race informed me that due to the large number of Pangasinan cyclists, the race organizers decided to allot two Pangasinan squads, West and East with seven members to compose each team. It’s a great idea and I didn’t disagree.
If the big race pushes through, then the First Governor’s Cup Tour ed Pangasinan 2020 of  sports-minded Gov. Amado “Pogi” I. Espino, III which I had requested to be conducted on March and to run in five-Sunday series, would be the perfect elimination and tune-up races for our local bets for the April 8-28 bikefest.

More on these issues soon when things are completely iron out.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” LUKE 20: 25

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