Le Tour 2012

Posted: May 4, 2012 by Trowel in races

OUTNUMBERED and inferior in international exposure and most signifi cantly in state-ofthe- art equipment and scientifi c training, Filipino cyclists still proved they could vie on the global stage after pulling off stunning and historic results in the recently-concluded 2012 Le Tour de Filipinas. Bert Lina, the Air21 chairman and cycling godfather, and Gary Cayton, president of the organizing Dynamic Outsource Solutions, were one in praising the grit and determination of local cyclists, who upset a foreign fi eld in the four-stage race sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). “It is a plain and simple proof that the Filipino cyclists could be at par not only with Asia’s best, but with the world’s,” said Lina, whose Air21 was the presentor of the Le Tour, which concluded its third edition as the only international race in the country.

LE TOUR DE FILIPINAS Cyclists negotiate the Hilltop in barangay Nagsabaran, Diadi, Nueva Vizcaya, during the 2012 Le Tour de Filipinas 3rd Leg from Cauayan City, Isabela, to Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, on April 16. PNA PHOTO COURTESY OF NONOY LACZA OF LE TOUR
Cayton reaped all accolades possible for the Filipino cyclists, especially overall winner Baler Ravina and stage winners Oscar Rendole (fi rst) of Mail and More, Arnel Quirimit (second) also of Go21 and Joel Calderon (third) also of Mail and More. “The possibility of producing world-class Filipino cyclists has presented itself in this Le Tour,” said Cayton, adding that the Le Tour had also fulfi lled one of its goals of entertaining enthusiasts in the remote northern corner of the archipelago. Throngs upon throngs of spectators lined up the roads in all four stages of the Le Tour that started in Sta. Ana, Cagayan, and had stops in Tuguegarao City, Cauayan in Isabela and Bayombong City in Nueva Vizcaya, before making its traditional fi nish at the Burnham Park in Baguio City.

Ravina, the pride of Asingan, Pangasinan, and perhaps the country’s strongest climber today, made Philippine cycling history by becoming the fi rst Filipino to win a UCI race, beating by 16 seconds Terengganu Cycling Team’s Loh Sea Kong of Malaysia. Not only did Ravina accomplish a fi rst for Philippine cycling-Rendole, Quirimit and Calderon’s stage wins were fi rsts in a UCI race and so was LPGMA-American Vinyl youngster Rustom Lim, who became the first Filipino to win the Young Rider’s trophy also in an international race. The Filipino cyclists were outnumbered in the Le Tour. Scattered in five teams-the others being Smart-PhilCycling and Kia-they had to contend with 11 foreign squads, six of them continental teams and the others clubs which do not only compete frequently overseas but have their cyclists ride sophisticated and expensive bikes and undergo scientific training.

“Even the food and vitamins they take are far more superior than the staples our cyclists are eating,” said Paquito Rivas, the former Tour champion and Eagle of the Mountain who heads the race managing group of the Le Tour, the Philippine National Cycling Association. Smart-PhilCycling’s John Mark Galedo was sixth overall, Lim was seventh and LPGMAAmerican Vinyl teammate Irish Valenzuela was eighth and Rendole ninth. The local teams also dominated the general team classifi – cation-LPGMA-American Vinyl was fi rst, followed by Mail and More and sister team under the Lina Group of Companies Go21 second and third, respectively.

The Bayombong to Baguio stage raced over a roller-coaster and dizzying route that had a pass at the picturesque Ambuklao Dam was also a fi rst in any local Tour, but was overwhelmingly described as the most diffi cult ever in local cycling. PNA

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