Pangasinan cyclists are professionals
By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.
A WEEK from now, the much-awaited third edition of the LBC Ronda Pilipinas bikathon will officially kick off. And for the first time in the history of professional multi-stage road racing in the country, the bikathon with 16 stages will start in Zamboanga City on January 12 and will end on February 2 in scenic Baguio City.
The Ronda, considered as the grandest of all the Tours that this country ever produced in terms of prizes, will be participated in anew by 96 accredited riders that passed the qualifying races last October 26-27. But there will be some changes in the format this time, according to race director Ric Rodriguez. Rodriguez . He said aside from moving the bikathon to the month of January to avoid the scorching heat during the dry season and the route has also been modified, and the 96 participants this year will be broken into 12 teams with eight riders per team, unlike last year which had 16 teams composed of six members each. Rodriguez also said that the prizes increased by half a million pesos, with the individual and team winners to pocket a whopping P1 million each, aside from the stage prizes wherein the top 20 finishers every day will be rewarded from P50,000 to P1,000.
Rodriguez also pointed out that officially there are 26 Pangasinan riders (not 23 as earlier reported) who will participate this year and have been distributed to other teams because the two Pangasinan squads, Hundred Islands/Pangasinan and Ilocos Sur- Pangasinan Mixed teams cannot accommodate them all. And some of our best local bets were hired by commercial firms to represent their respective companies headed by 2011 champion Santy Barnachea of Umingan and 2012 Le Tour de Filipinas titlist Baler Ravina of Asingan. The others are Ericson Obosa of Manaoag, Harvey Sicam, Edmundo Nicolas and Edgardo Bolliser of San Manuel, Mark Julius Bonzo of Sual, Joshua Carino of Mangaldan and Ronald Oranza of Villasis. Of course, these pro riders are receiving salaries every month with five digits. But I’m sad to say that my town mate Mangaldanon Renato Sembrano will represent Cebu province this time and my namesake Jesus Garcia of Sta. Maria will don the jersey of Mindanao team. Well, you cannot blame them because they’re professionals being paid to represent other teams.
The Hundred Islands/Pangasinan squad is composed of the aging Tour veterans Reynaldo Navarro of San Jacinto and Ferdinand Pablo of Umingan, skipper and assistant skipper, respectively. Their six teammates are Salvador Salvador and Kenneth Solis of San Manuel, Ryan Daoana of Urdaneta City, Pepito Calosa of San Jacinto, the come-backing and mountain-climbing specialist Johnny Dasalla of Umingan and greenhorn Melchor Ferrer of Lingayen. Benson Camat and Joel Crisostomo, both from Laoac will be under the Ilocos Sur-Pangasinan Mixed squad.
During the Tour of Luzon era under the organization of the late Atty. Geruncio Lacuesta which I participated in six times, the multi-stage bikathon was a regional race and was never a commercial event. But despite that, we were still considered professional cyclists and holder of Union Cycliste Prefessionale des Philippines license (UCPP) under the umbrella of the world governing body Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). But times have changed and eventually the Tour format had to change too. It’s good for the cyclists because their efforts during their training period and up to the actual competitions are no longer wasted.
Our cyclists have arrived. They are professionals and they understand what that means.
* * * *
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. 1 CORINTHIANS 15: 33-34