Pangasinan cyclists split in different teams

By February 21, 2022Sports Eye

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.

AFTER a year’s lull obviously due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our nation’s multi-stage bicycle racing has been gearing up with the easing of restrictions amid the pandemic to hold anew two national races this year. First to commence is the well-known annual LBC Ronda Pilipinas bikefest which is ready to reel off on March 11 to 20. Second will be the newly organized 16-day bikefest “Go Philippines Tour” under the sponsorship of lawmaker Sen. Bong Go.

Latest reports from my reliable source reveal that unlike LBC Ronda Pillipinas’ last edition in 2020 that was conducted before the country’s pandemic with 80 participants divided into ten teams with eight members per squad, this year’s edition is comprised of 13 teams and also with eight players in each group or a total of 104 accredited professional contestants. Like the 2020 version, it is a battle of mixed commercial, regional and government squads eyeing for the multi-million pesos in cash prizes for team and individual honors excluding the stage wins plus some special rewards.

Unlike the prominent cyclists Nueva Ecija, Ilocos Sur and Quezon provinces, several of our province’s 12 elite pedal-pushers were assigned to different teams, a move  which I believe was done by the organizers deliberately and purposely to balance the team competition.

History says our dominance in team competition started in 1957 Tour of Luzon. Manaoag town natives Rufino Gabot and Ignacio Jacinto (both from barrio Laoac) won the top two individual honors and the team championship. This feat was repeated the following year (1958) with Mapandan inhabitant Mamerto Eden and Dagupan City citizen Teofilo Cuison finishing 1-2 in the overall standing that successfully defended the team reputation. Though we lost the individual titles in 1959, 1960, 1961 (except 1962 won by Lingayen born Edmundo de Guzman), we still won the team competitions yearly won by Ilocandia squad composed of Pangasinan players led by Gabot, Jacinto, Gonzalo Recodos, Tomas Quevedo, Conversion Tolentino, to name some.

The 1-2 individual and team dominance in the annual bikefest was duplicated in 1973 with this writer winning the top honor and my town mate and teammate Cesar Catambay placing second, a feat that also paved the way for us to win the team honors. Teodorico Rimarim of Basista and Catambay duplicated the feat the following year (1974). Our dominance in the team competitions in the subsequent years did not stop until the organizers broke the Pangasinan team monopoly and assigned our best bets to different teams.

Admittedly the Tour organizers succeeded in their strategy but while our Pangasinan team still won, but no longer a dominant force. Our worst landing was third place.

The coming Ronda bikefest this year does not have a Pangasinan squad because of the segregation strategy. And this is the reason why I did not bother to ask our sports-minded and hardworking governor to form our Pangasinan squad to compete. Yes, our 12 best Pangasinenses competing this year are headed by our two latest champions Ronald Oranza of Villasis and my town mate (Mangaldan) Joshua Cariño, the protégé of my son, the two-time cycling Olympian Jazy. More on this in the next week issue. Let’s pray for their victories. Their triumphs are also ours. Amen.

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My heartfelt and sincere condolence to the family of my friends Nestor, Oscar and Roger of Barangay Baligi, Laoac, Pangasinan for losing their beloved father uncle Andring Solamillos, 94. Interment will be on February 23, 2022.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. MATTHEW 12: 25

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