BONGABON, NUEVA ECIJA – Riemon Lapaza of Cycleline Butuan overcame strong winds on flat roads and a flat tire near the finish line to rule the Philippine leg of the 2022 Trek Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Gravel World Series Sunday morning here.
Lapaza not only finished first in the men’s 35-39 years old category but also surpassed more than 350 cyclists after clocking in 3:06:46.7.
“Okay naman. Medyo nanibago lang sa una,” said Lapaza, who was all smiles after receiving the UCI rainbow jersey. “‘Yong sa patag malakas ‘yong hangin. Mas matulin pa ‘yong ahon kesa sa patag.
“Natiis ko lang ‘yong hangin tapos natsambahan ko lang siguro na nakondisyon ako,” added the 35-year-old Butuan native cyclist.
Lapaza endured racing with a flat tire near the finish line but was confident to step on the pedal after cruising past younger legs in the 19-34 category.
He added that the entire 85-kilometer course, for 19-49, was a bit tricky as the dirt road was filled with mudwater and some canals were dried up and loaded with gravel.
Trailing behind Lapaza were Dutchman Rick Nobel and Filipinos Mervin Santiago and Jarwyn Banatao, the top three finishers in the men’s 19-34.
Nobel of Eurocyclingtrips Pro Cycling Team crossed the line in 3:11:38.131, Santiago of Trek Philippines / Opus Land clocked in 3:11:47.808, and Banatao of Johns Bike Racing Team followed suit with 3:11:48.097.
Completing the list of the top finishers per category at press time were: Angelo Bryant Licup of Team Franzia (men’s 40-44, 3:11:48.097; Jaime Lopez of Bike Hub (men’s 60-64, 3:19:19.911; Akihiro Takaoka of Roppongi Express (men’s 45-49, 3:21:59.257); Melissa Jane Jaroda of Devel (women’s 19-34, 3:39:00.639); Richard Santiago of Dan’s Bike Shop (men’s 50-54, 3:47:18.320); Leilani Marie Tan of Rapha Cycling Club (women’s 50-54; 3:59:52.429); Joselito Patayan of Cycleline Butuan (men’s 55-59, 4:04:45.026), Chloe Jane Ong of POSF (women’s 35-39, 4:04:45.026); Anna Khristine Aleonar of Attack Bike Shop (women’s 40-44, 5:05:25.179); Anna Marissa Remigio of Team David’s Salon (women’s 45-49, 5:05:25.179); and Chris Turpin of Attack Bike Shop (men’s 65-69, 5:37:22.671).
The Philippines is the only Asian country to host the world championships series with the inaugural Bongabon leg, which coincides with the municipality’s celebration of Sibuyas Festival.
The Nueva Ecija race is just also among the 15 qualifying events for the world gravel series, which accomodated participants from Asia, Europe, North America and Australia.
To qualify for the culminating race, finishers must be in the “top 25 percent group per gender and age group, with each age group ranging five years between 19 and 79”
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