Tour Pilipinas Stage 9: Luzon, pals spark major shakeup

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Z Bernard, May 7, 2003.

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    Luzon, pals spark major shakeup By Nelson Beltran Tuesday, May 06, 2003

    VIGAN - What was expected to be a yawner of a ride turned out to be an eventful race in the Air21
    Tour Pilipinas' journey to this historic city yesterday.

    On a day key members of the Philippine team admitted they have made a pact among themselves,
    non-national riders ironically stole the thunder as they laid down their own conspiracy for a siege
    that gave them significant gains in the tour's ninth stage from Dagupan City.

    There's Bernard Luzon who fulfilled a promise for a big comeback after a sorry showing Sunday,
    flashing victorious to this place the Nueva Ecijano considered his second home.

    There's also Felix Celeste who sustained the momentum of his triumphant finish in the eighth stage
    in his home province, checking in third this time to continue his climb in the standings.

    Then, there's Rhyan Tanguilig, dubbed the second coming of Carlo Guieb, who made a bold move while
    the national riders weren't looking, thus, jumping into second place -- only one minute and 40
    seconds behind pacesetter Merculio Ramos.

    The gap could have become closer if not for a late charge by Ramos and his RP team pals after a
    decision to answer a call of nature during the neutral start proved costly.

    "Napunta ako sa likuran dahil umihi ako sa start. Nagulat na lang ako may nakawala na pala
    kaagad," said the Samsung team captain, holder of the yellow jersey in the last five legs, on his
    early foul-up.

    Luzon, Celeste and Tanguilig were among nine riders who staged a daring breakaway only a few
    kilometers into the race. And they helped one another, taking turns in setting the pace to effect a
    major shakeup in the standings.

    Luzon, the 22-year-old former SBMA Tour 2000 champion who was once a finisher in the Tour of
    Ireland, peeled off from the pack in the last 15 kilometers and checked in all by his lonesome
    despite a spill in the final bend heading to the finish line in front of the provincial capitol.

    "Pangako ko sa sarili ko babawi ako ngayon. At paborito ko ang ruta dahil natira ako noon sa may
    Bantay. Parang bayan ko na rin itong Vigan," said Luzon, who moved back in the thick of things,
    jumping from 12th to sixth, 11.25 off the leader.

    Others who improved in the standings were Placido Valdez from eighth to seventh, 13.16 behind the
    leader, Lito Atilano (14.07) from ninth to eighth, Lloyd Reynante (14.55) from 10th to ninth,
    Renato Dolosa
    (15.02) from 11th to 10th, Santi Barnachea (15.38) from 13th to 11th, Ronald Gorrantes (15.57) from
    24th to 12th, Alfie Catalan (17.52) from 16th to 14th, Celeste (17.56) from 19th to 15th and
    Albert Primero (19.26) from 17th to 16th.

    Erstwhile leader Arnel Quirimit chose to ride all the way with Ramos and probably regretted his ploy
    as he fell to fourth place. Quirimit, Ramos and national teammate Warren Davadilla crossed the
    finish line with the sixth group, 6.43 behind the lap winner.

    Postmen team captain and Philippine STAR carrier Enrique Domingo came in with the fifth group to
    stay at third place. He's now only 2.21 behind Ramos.

    "Nagkampihan na rin sila (non-RP riders). Pero kahit na magkampihan sila, tingin ko hindi sila uubra
    (versus the national riders)," said Ramos.

    Sensing that the RP riders have bonded themselves together, Tanguilig hatched his own plan to attack
    yesterday. He said: "Alam ko nagkausap- usap na sila. Wala naman mangyayari kung makikipagbantayan
    lang ako sa kanila, kaya kumilos na ako."

    Tanguilig, Celeste and Luzon, together with Michael Primero of Gilbey's Island Punch, Virgilio Muena
    of PLDT-NDD, Rene Esteban of Postmen, Arnel Espino of Pagcor Sports and Dominador Jacob of Tanduay
    broke away from the peloton even before they left the Dagupan proper.

    Running at an average speed of 55 kph under the searing heat, the group led their closest pursuers
    by more than 10 minutes in some stretch.

    But Muena, Esteban, Espino, Jacob could't keep pace all the way, falling behind one after another
    until only Tanguilig, Celeste, Luzon and Primero were left in the lead pack while negotiating a
    winding stretch in Narvacan, overlooking the pristine South China sea on the left.

    Primero, the eventual second placer, attempted to cut loose when they hit Bantay, the last town
    before Vigan. But Luzon waged a chase, overtaking Primero in the last three kilometers and going on
    to nail the top lap honors.

    "Nag-usap na kami na magtulungan, para umakat kami sa standings. Lahat nag-trabaho," said Luzon.

    The field is down to 82 as the tour goes to Laoag in the 10th stage today with Drug Buster
    Jecky Barrandes quitting because of an injured knee. Patrol 117's Eusebio Quinones was rushed
    to the hospital after the ninth lap because of diarrhea but he continued the race yesterday,
    finishing at 63rd.

    --
    Luzon wins Tour's ninth stage

    TODAY- 5/6/2003

    VIGAN - The nasty talks of a conspiracy that circled around the Tour Pilipinas 2003 delegation in
    cloak-and-dagger fashion bounced along the walls of Rhyan Tanguilig's mind so many times that it has
    began to sound so real.

    Bernard Luzon, on the other hand, admitted that he was ganged up on in the previous stage and had
    made up his mind to get some measure of payback. Felix Celeste would have wanted to shrug everything
    off, until somebody reminded him of Arnel Quirimit's careless and callous remark about how the rest
    of the field were just hangers-on in this summer event.

    In the middle of all these demons that the three cyclists had to face was the country's cocksure
    national team, whose members believe that the world revolves around them.

    But slowly, the rest of the supposed lesser mortals began making people notice.

    As the summer sun continued to flog cyclists and those that lined to watch them whiz by Monday
    afternoon, Luzon towed three people to a crowded finish line in front of the Ilocos Sur provincial
    capital in a manner that underlined a serious threat to the country's national riders: Somebody
    could just floor their openly admitted bid to make sure one of their ilk ascends the throne as
    overall champion.

    "Basta ako, alam ko, pinagkaisahan ako sa stage kahapon. Kaya hindi ako nakatira ng husto. Inisip ko
    lang na hinding-hindi puwede na hindi ako makakabawi ngayon," said Luzon, the Patrol 117 skipper,
    who won the ninth stage that ended in this city known for it's row of old houses and cobblestone
    streets in four hours, 44 seconds and 53 minutes.

    He nosed out the unassuming Michael Primero of Intel by seven seconds and Celeste by 18 seconds.

    Celeste, skipper of the Vat Riders, was the first to break the string of stage wins by the national
    riders by winning the lung-busting Olongapo-to-Dagupan race Sunday. Told that Quirimit had labeled
    cyclists of the national team as nothing more than mere passengers, he quipped: "Sila nga ang
    naghabol sa akin kahapon, eh."

    The guy who shook the belief that a national rider will be crowned overall titlist, though, was
    Tanguilig, who saw an opportunity to escape the sight of national cyclists on the way to a fourth
    place finish that propelled him to No. 2 in the overall rankings of this race presented by Air21 and
    sponsored by Lipovitan, Longines and Accel.

    "Na-challenge ako kasi parang ako 'yung binabantayan nila. Pakiramdam ko tuloy ganun ako kalakas.
    May kutob ako na gusto nila akong hilain pababa kaya nung nakakita ako ng butas, kumawala na ako,"
    said Tanguilig.

    The nationals have reason to fear the 23-year-old PagcorSports captain. In 1998, He was named the
    Tour's best young rider and flaunted climbing skills that floored observers. But the promise that
    swelled inside his then 18-year-old body was pricked into a wrinkled, shapeless mess when the old
    Tour collapsed due to a clash in advertising policies.

    "Nanghinayang ako kasi alam ko, malayo ang mararating ko," said Tanguilig, who added he is still two
    years from recapturing his old form. Still, he is a dark horse the nationals have to consider,
    despite overall leader Merculio Ramos's contention that it would be tough to upstage them.

    "Palagay ko mahihirapan silang talunin ang national team," said Ramos, who leads the field with an
    aggregate time of 33:45:19, a minute and 14 ticks up on Tanguilig's 33:46:59.

    The stage shifts to a crucial team time trial to Laoag City Tuesday, where the race for the record
    P1-million team classification prize could drastically change. Intel still leads the field but teams
    are positioning themselves for the time trial, where the times of the first four riders will count.

    The lead pack was in command of Monday's stage and looked to reshuffle the leader board until it
    reached the town of Santa. There, as the backdrop drastically shifted from Pangasinan's salt ponds
    fenced into equal squares and lush greeneries that defied summer's orders to wilt, to the endless
    expanse of the South China Sea, so did the lead group's fate change as the pack that included
    Quirimit, Ramos of Samsung and Intel skipper Warren Davadilla -- three national riders who
    alternately towed their group to the finish -- made it to within six minutes away.

    Luzon, in fact, had to pick himself up from a nasty spill caused by an overenthusiastic fireman's
    attempt to cool passing riders with a spray from his hose.

    "Buti na lang, mga 400 meters ang layo ko, kung hindi, naabutan malamang ako," said Luzon.

    --------------------------------------------------
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