Tour Pilipinas Stage 8: Native sons rise in 8th lap

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Z Bernard, May 4, 2003.

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  1. Z Bernard

    Z Bernard Guest

    Tour veteran shows he's not over the hill May 04, 2003 Philippine Daily Inquirer

    DAGUPAN CITY, Pangasinan -- Felix Celeste, who couldn't resist the call of multi-stage cycling
    although he's now based in Rome, broke into the elite circle of lap winners Sunday even as Merculio
    Ramos and Arnel Quirimit kept their 1-2 positions in the Tour Pilipinas 2003 bikathon.

    Celeste, inspired no end after seeing his wife and children cheering him on in the town of Sual,
    Pangasinan province, showed the way home for a huge pack of riders to rule the longest stage in the
    15-lap schedule in five hours, 43 minutes and 15 seconds.

    "Pagkakita ko sa kanila, lumakas ulit ako. (I felt strong again when I saw them)," said Celeste
    of his wife Jocelyn and children Kevin, 3, and Kiara, 1, who came home from Rome to give him
    moral support.

    Proving he's not yet over the hill, Celeste, 32, outsprinted fellow Pangasinense Danny Ganigan and
    Reynaldo Navarro in the final 200 meters of the 247.6-km lap from Olongapo to secure his fourth
    lap win ever.

    Ramos and Quirimit kept close watch on each other and finished with the 17-man main pack that
    checked in 17.9 seconds behind Celeste.

    The overall leader was ranked ninth for the day and maintained his lead of two minutes and 41
    seconds over Quirimit.

    But there was a major revamp in the top 10 list as veteran Placido Valdez tumbled down to eighth
    from third because of an ailing foot and Bernard Luzon skidded from fourth overall to 12th by
    finishing 49th for the day.

    "My right foot hurts. I didn't force the issue because I fear the injury might jeopardize my
    championship bid," said Valdez in Tagalog.

    Enrique Domingo, a hands-down favorite to capture the Sprint King crown and winner of the seventh
    lap, moved from fifth to occupy Valdez's old spot, five minutes and 36 seconds off Ramos.

    Rhyan Tanguilig advanced to fourth from sixth, 1998 champion Warren Davadilla took fifth from
    seventh and Joseph Millanes, the day's fourth placer, and Arnold Marcelo barged into the Magic 10 as
    No. 6 and No. 7, respectively.

    Millanes was 15th and Marcelo 14th when the race started after a rest day Saturday.

    Also gaining considerably was Lito Atilano, who jumped from 16th to ninth behind Valdez with Lloyd
    Reynante dropping to 10th overall from eight.

    Quirimit, the winningest rider so far with three lap victories, said the favorites shied away from
    the battle for lap honors since Celeste and company posed no serious threats to them.

    But the lap win meant a lot for Celeste, who improved just one rung in the overall race with his
    19th place.

    Forced to retire when the Tour was scrapped in 1999, the veteran rider from the town of Urdaneta in
    Pangasinan joined his wife in Rome, where she works as a caregiver, in 2001.

    He was on vacation last year when he learned that the Tour was being revived. He decided to join the
    qualifying races, made it to the Tour proper and organizers acknowledged his status as a respected
    rider by naming him skipper of the Vat Riders.

    Celeste, whose best finish was fourth overall in 1992, said it's hard to win due to the presence of
    younger and stronger riders now, but he promised to give it his best shot.

    Ramos will don the yellow jersey for the fifth straight time Monday when the Tour heads north to
    Vigan City, Ilocos Sur province on a 206-km lap.

    "My injuries have somehow healed but it's getting difficult to stay on top every day," said Ramos.

    Except for Millanes, the top seven finishers hail from this province with Nilo Estayo, Quirimit and
    Alfie Catalan wounding up fifth to seventh, respectively.

    In the team category, Intel kept the lead in the race for the one-million-peso top team prize for
    the sixth consecutive day with a total time of 117 hours, five minutes and 17 seconds.

    Native sons rise in 8th lap By Nelson Beltran The Philippine Star 05/05/2003

    DAGUPAN - The Pangasinense riders bonded together in this particular lap and made sure no outsider
    would gatecrash the party in their home turf yesterday.

    They mightily rode as one and flashed home victorious to the waiting arms of their kababayans in the
    eighth stage of the Air21 Tour Pilipinas 2003 that ended in this booming city by the bay.

    Felix Celeste proved to be the province's biggest hero in the day as the grizzled tour veteran from
    the nearby Urdaneta town, inspired by the sight of his family by the road side 45 kilometers to the
    finish, won the lap top honors.

    Danny Gannigan, from Binalonan, and Reynaldo Navarro, from San Jacinto, made it a 1-2-3 finish for
    the Pangalatoks.

    Merculio Ramos and Arnel Quirimit, also proud Pangasinense riders, finished with the lead pack and
    kept their one-two position going ninth stage that will bring the tour further north in Vigan today.

    "Halos kagaya lang ng lap ngayon ang lap bukas. Kaya baka hindi rin ako makakain ng oras bukas,"
    said Quirimit, the erstwhile yellow jersey holder who remained two minutes and 41 seconds behind
    Ramos after the 247-lap from Olongapo.

    Enrique Domingo, yet another Pangasinense rider and Philippine Star carrier, was among those who
    blazed the road home. He moved up from fifth to third, dislodging Placido Valdez, who huffed and
    puffed ironically after the rest day Saturday.

    "Matanda na, iba na ang hinga," said Valdez of his ordeal yesterday.

    Others who moved up in the standings were Rhyan Tanguilig from sixth to fourth, Warren Davadilla
    from seventh to fifth, Joseph Millanes from 15th to sixth, Arnold Marcelo from 14th to seventh and
    Lito Atilano from 16th to ninth.

    Big losers like Valdez, now at eighth 16:32 off the pace, were Lloyd Reynante (dropping from eighth
    to 10th), Renato Dolosa (10th to 11th) and Bernard Luzon (fourth to 12th).

    "Nangyari yung nakinikinita kong mangyayari sa lap ngayon. Alam ko magkakampi-kampi ang mga
    taga-rito. Halos kalahati ng field taga-Pangasinan, siyempre gusto nila sila ang manalo," said Intel
    coach Norberto Oconer.

    "Tingnan nyo sa susunod si Tanguilig (from Nueva Vizcaya) naman ang ibabagsak niyang mga
    iyan," he added.

    Quirimit admitted he made some sacrifices in the day but said it was meant to help fellow national
    player Davadilla.

    "Hindi ako makaalagwa dahil medyo madali ang ruta. Kaya nag-sacrifice na lang ako. Pero
    nakatulong din nga kami doon sa tatlo (who won the lap honors), dahil pasahero lang naming sila
    kanina," said Quirimit.

    Celeste floated with the 23-man lead back most of the way before outpedalling Ganigan in a mad dash
    to the finish to win the lap which he readily offered to his family who later joined him in the
    cyclists test.

    "Na-inspired ako noong makita ko ang pamilya ko sa karsada sa may Sual. Naiyak nga ako dahil
    ngayon ko lang sila uli nakita," said Celeste, referring to his wife Jocelyn and kids Kevin Luigi,
    3, and Kiara, 1.

    Celeste, veteran of nine previous tours who is turning 32 on June, is actually based in Italy with
    his family. He said they only went home to try his luck in this tour. His wife works as care-giver
    in Rome while he attends to their kids at home.

    "Taga-alaga ako ng mga anak naming kaya hindi na rin ako nakakabagbisikleta. Tuwing Sunday na lang
    ako nakakasakay," said Celeste, whose best finish in the tour was fourth in 1992.

    TOUR NOTES: The sponsoring Air21 hosted a beach party to the tour entourage in Subic during the rest
    day Saturday. Air21 president Lito Alvarez made the cyclists happy by announcing Air21 is committed
    to stage the summer spectacle on wheels at least in the next five years. He apologized for their
    shortcomings and mistakes, saying: "Pasensya na kayo at bago pa lang kami dito sa sport na ito." The
    Foreplay band performed in the party with Alvarez joining the group in one number, singing "Bakit
    Ngayon Ka Lang". Merculio Ramos said he was also inspired by a visit by his wife Arlene, driving him
    to make a number of attempts to breakaway from his pursuers. Foiled in his bid to increase his lead
    over second-running Arnel Quirimit, Ramos said he' ll make another attempt today. . . Spotted by the
    radio crew keenly awaiting the riders pass by Sual was former champion Romeo Bonzo. He won the tour
    in 1984. An older brother Modesto also ruled the tour much, much earlier. . .

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