Governor Salceda hoping Bicol can produce more cycling stars in mold of Tour great Joe Sumalde
Albay governor Joey Salceda with scribes who covered the 7th Le Tour. Jerome Ascano

PLEASED with the hometown folks’ response to the 7th Le Tour de Filipinas, Albay now looks to host more bike races to inspire local cyclists to rise to the top.

Albay governor Joey Salceda wants the only UCI-sanctioned race in the country to be staged again in the province, saying they can do even better as hosts in the coming years with the construction of new roads in Albay.

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“We opened about 321 kilometers of tourism roads. They are very good roads. I’m sure there is enough circuits to go around,” said Salceda.

“We really wish na ibalik dito at mas marami kaming puwedeng ibigay na route na mas maganda dahil maraming magagandang roads,” Salceda said.

Albay’s capital city welcomed the international field at the finish in Stage Three and hosted Stage Four with an out-and-back route in Legazpi.

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Salceda said he wants more races to be held in the province, more so since he is an avid cycling fan. He recalled how much he idolized the legendary Jose ‘Joe’ Sumalde, the first Bicolano to win the then Tour of Luzon when we won in 1963 and 1964.

“Idol ng Albay si Joe Sumalde. Pinanganak ako na idol namin si Joe Sumalde. Araw-araw, nasa radyo kami. Nakadalawa siya (Tour of Luzon titles). Gusto namin siya makatatlo kaso nilampaso ni (Cornelio) Padilla,” Salceda recalled.

Salceda said he even got to know Sumalde when he delivered newspapers at their house in Sta. Mesa Heights, Quezon City when he was in college.

“Nagtatapon siya sa amin ng newspaper kaya tuwang-tuwa ako noon. Daily Express ang tinatapon niya,” said Salceda.

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Salceda said cycling is a perfect sport for the province as Albay hopes to produce cycling stars in the future in the mold of Sumalde.

“It’s something na natural to countryside sports. Kaya nagpapasalamat kami sa grupo ng Air21 na dinala dito ang cycling,” Salceda said.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @reubensports