Tour Pilipinas Stage 6: Directional snafu benefits Ramos..MORE NEWS

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    Directional snafu benefits Ramos

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    MALAYA - May 2, 2003 - By NOLI CORTEZ www.malaya.com.ph

    MARIKINA. - Nobody among the Air 21 Tour Pilipinas riders expected a respite on Labor Day.

    But that's exactly what they got Thursday after an unexpected big protest march caused a directional
    snafu early in the race, forcing Tour officials to make a landmark decision and declare the sixth
    lap a battle only for lap honors.

    "We have no choice. We deemed it to be the best decision that is most fair to everyone," said Race
    Director Art Cayabyab and Chief Commissaire Renato del Mundo in a press conference following what
    should have been a 202.6-km grind from Tagaytay to here.

    The lap was reduced to a race for the maximum P10,000 lap prize that went to Tanduay's Arnel
    Quirimit following a finish marked by a controversy that was not limited to a spill among seven
    riders sprinting like mad at the line.

    The news came as a big break for overall leader Merculio Ramos, among those who suffered a spill
    entering Laguna and was left behind by a group that included Warren Davadilla, third in the top 10.

    Ramos goes into Friday's 201.6-km seventh lap from here to Olongapo with his 99-second lead over
    Placido Valdez and 3:31 margin over Davadilla intact.

    "Malaki sana ang tsansa ko na makakuha man lang. Tapos pinatigil ang karera," rued Davadilla.

    Also frustrated no end were a six-man group composed of Felix Celeste, Rodelio Valdez, Enrique
    Domingo, Richard Aquino, Jenky Barrantes and Renato Dolosa who thought they were well ahead of the
    peloton, only to learn they were going in the wrong direction.

    "Bigla kaming pinatigil, tapos pinabalik. Eh mga tatlong kilometro na iyon," related Domingo.

    The protesters, who came from different provinces and numbering by the hundreds, caused a traffic
    jam at a junction in Calamba, 55 kms into the race, where the cyclists should have taken a right to
    Sta. Rosa proper in Laguna.

    But because of the sheer number of protesters and the huge banners they toted, the directional signs
    posted at the critical juncture were obscured, if not completely covered.

    Even the marshal sent to provide directions proved useless, along with the policemen and traffic
    aides trying to help them, and at least 30 percent of the riders went straight on to Calamba proper.

    It took some doing before those who took the wrong route, including some of the Tour vehicles, could
    be recalled and the whole convoy regrouped.

    After a 45-minute meeting among Tour officials, coaches and cyclists' representative Dolosa, it was
    agreed to re-start the race at Sto. Tomas in Batangas.

    It marked the first time that a Tour lap was declared null and void although there were instances of
    some cyclists losing their way in the past.

    "This is unique dahil majority of the race column got lost in the confusion," related Del Mundo.

    Quirimit outsprinted partners Paulo Manapol, Reynhard Gorrantes, Albert Primero and Placido Valdez
    at the finish, but winning what should have been his second straight lap and third overall proved to
    be the least of his troubles.

    The top five finishers' momentum carried them straight to the railing, some 15 meters from the
    finish line, where the riders must take a hard left to the Rodriguez Sports Complex where they were
    required to do a victory lap.

    Quirimit escaped any injury, but had to contend with some angry co- team captains who felt
    he reneged on a verbal understanding that they would share the lap prizes among the rest of
    the 12 teams.

    First placer in each lap gets P10,000, second P5,000 and third P3,000.

    Quirimit contended he is not interested in the lap prize, but rather on the special plum promised by
    the team sponsor.

    "Maraming hindi nakakaintindi na me espesyal kaming premyo mula Tanduay. Kanila pa rin iyung
    P10,000," explained Quirimit who also won the first and fifth laps and whose team also topped the
    second stage.

    TOUR HAND SAYS ERROR COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED
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    Malaya May 2, 2003 www.malaya.com.ph

    MARIKINA. - Tom Cruz doesn't even vaguely look anything like the American movie star who sports the
    same name.

    But having spent some 30 years of his life with the annual summer spectacle, Cruz knows how miscues
    like what happened Thursday in the Air 21 Tour Pilipinas could have been avoided.

    "Lagay lang ng marshals at directional signs," explained Cruz, currently the Tour's Facilities
    Director, only slightly different from the job he held since joining the bikathon in the early 70s.

    The job entails putting up the finish line buntings, streamers and banners, as well as the different
    tents and other facilities the entourage may need.

    Before, he handled two routing teams, one to put up the signs along the route and the rest to put
    those down after the Tour has passed.

    "Kaya nga sabihin mo lang sa akin kung saan tayo pupunta, kahit nakapikit ako, kayang-kaya kong
    sabihin kung saan dapat nakalagay ang mga (directional) signs," said Cruz, a very hale 53-year-old.

    That is why he believes Thursday's snafu should never have happened.

    "Ang mga signs kasi, dapat at least 10 feet high. Kaya kahit me tao diyan, kahit me sasakyan diyan,
    kita pa rin ang signs.

    "At ang mga escorts and marshals, dapat palaging nandoon sa mga kritikal na lugar. Kung kulang,
    dapat dagdagan," he said.

    It is, he maintained, simply a matter of having each individual aware that he or she has a
    job to do.

    "Isang pagkakamali lang, apektado na ang buong Tour," he said.

    Not even the confusion caused by a monstrous traffic jam in Calamba could put off Team
    PagcorSports' focus.

    "The fact remains that the cyclists are focused on team effort," said Pagcor chairman Ephraim
    Genuino, "that not even the chaos could dishearten the boys.

    "But that's all behind us now," added Genuino, "and what's more important are the stages up ahead.
    It goes with the territory, so to speak, so such confusion should not be affecting the boys' focus."

    Genuino has personally tapped Pagcor Prime Department head Edward King and PagcorSports head Luis
    Carlos to personally oversee the team. PagcorSports has stayed in the thick of things and is running
    fifth overall.

    "There are stages up ahead that would determine the complexion of the Tour and those stages are what
    the boys are focused on," said Carlos.

    National Lloyd Reynante and skipper Rhyan Tanguilig suffered mild misfortunes in the Lucena-Tagaytay
    fifth stage Wednesday but are still hanging in there and are in the top 10 of the overall individual
    standings.

    --
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