HANGZHOU – Three Filipino riders who have racked thousands of kilometers at home but racing for the first time on the Asian Games stage make their medal bid in cycling’s men’s road race on Thursday in Chung’an.
Ronald Oranza, Jonel Carcueva and Joshua Pascual will carry the fight for the PhilCycling team headed by Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino over an out-and-back 210-km route starting at 10 a.m.
The three Filipinos will be racing against 63 athletes from the 19-nation field where Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Japan are ranked high on the start list.
“Our riders are raring to go, regardless of how tough the race is,” said head coach Reinhard Gorantes from the Athletes Village in Chun’an. “What our riders lack in experience racing outside of the Philippines they’ll make up with their big fighting heart.”
Gorantes and fellow coach Virgilio Espiritu in Chun’an surveyed the route the past two days and described the terrain as relatively flat and winding with its major climb set at no more than three kilometers with an elevation that rises to under 350 meters.
“This will be a race of speed and endurance—it’s a one-day race, no tomorrow,” said Espiritu, who acknowledged the support of the POC and the Philippine Sports Commission’s support for the riders and their teams—Philippine Navy-Standard Insurance for Oranza, Excellent for Pascual and Go for Gold for Carcueva.
Cycling contributed a bronze medal to the Philippine coffers early this week through Patrick Coo in men’s BMX racing.
Victor Espiritu, considered perhaps the most complete Filipino cyclist—he packs power in both spring and climb—clinched the country’s last medal in Asian Games cycling, a bronze, at the 1998 edition in Bangkok.
Oranza is no stranger to international competitions having clinched bronze medals in road and criterium in his most previous Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia last May, but vowed to go all out against a field that features riders who are continental team regulars in the UCI Asia Tour.
“This is for flag and country,” Oranza said. “We will ride as a team and compete as a team.”
Carcueva, the reigning national champion for road, had experience as a continental team rider but also is aware of what a one-day race requires.
“We’ll everything we have in four-or five hours of racing,” he said.
Pascual, on the other hand, was plucked from the 7-Eleven Road Bike Philippines—where he’s on loan from Excellent—that raced in the recent Le Tour de Langkawi and flew back to Manila middle of last week to join the road squad in its flight to here Thursday.
“Like what my teammates said, we’ll give everything we have … this is not a stage race, there’s no stage 2 tomorrow,” Pascual said. (PR)