Foreign teams stand in way of Ravina quest
“Malalakas po `yung mga foreigners, kung dati rati Pinoy sa Pinoy ang labanan, dito mas may malalaki at mas bihasa kaming karibal,” says reigning champion Baler Ravina. Snow Badua

MORE than last year, Baler Ravina is aware he has a lot to prove now when he puts his title on the line on Saturday at the start of the four-stage Le Tour de Filipinas in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.  

“Sana po maka-ulit para naman hindi isipin ng marami na tsamba,” said the pint-sized mountain climber, who pulled off a surprise a year ago when he became the first Filipino ever to rule an international bikefest following his victory in last year’s Le Tour edition.

But becoming the first back-to-back cycling champion since Carlo Guieb won the Tour in 1993 and 1994 will not come easy for Ravina as a total of 11 foreign teams will be competing in the four-day race covering a total of 611 kilometers.

And the champion readily acknowledges it.

“Malalakas po `yung mga foreigners, kung dati rati Pinoy sa Pinoy ang labanan, dito mas may malalaki at mas bihasa kaming karibal,” said Ravina, team captain of Roadbike Philippines, the team champion in the recent Ronda Pilipinas.

This year’s route will bring riders through the back-breaking mountain ranges of Cagayan Valley, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and finally Baguio City.

Ravina and the rest of the Roadbike Philippines is fresh from competing in the Tour of Thailand, where the Asingan, Pangasinan rider finished 33rd overall, more than seven minutes behind eventual champion Ki Ho Choi of Hongkong.

Aside from Roadbike Philippines, another local entry in defending champion LPGMA-American Vinyl is also looking for a top podium finish in both individual and team races.

Former two-time Tour champion and now LPGMA-American Vinyl coach Renato Dolosa is fielding in a solid roster headed by reigning Ronda Pilipinas individual champion Irish Valenzuela.

“Four days lang ito, kaya siniguro ko na solid `yung team na ipinasok namin. Natitiyak ko naman may laban itong team ko,” said Dolosa of his team fully supported by Congressman Arnel Ty and business partner Eric Sy.

Dolosa also bared LPGMA is setting its sights on crowding Ravina for the individual plum, with Valenzuela as its prime bet.

With Valenzuela in the LPGMA team are Cris Joven, Rudy Roque, Edmundo Nicolas and Ronald Lumotos.

“Our team is better in short races like the Le Tour, pero hindi namin sila pine-pressure. We just want them to enjoy the race and improve their performances,” said Ty, whose team swept the team and individual (Cris Joven) championships of the Tour of Indonesia last year.


The Le Tour kicks off  with the Pagudpud to Aparri race, followed by the trek to Aparri-Cauayan, Isabela (Stage 2), then Cauayan to Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya (Stage 3) before capping it off with the dreaded Bayombong to Baguio City via Kayapa final stage.

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