The Philippines, thanks to the conquest of Baler Rabina and the excellent result registered by Filipino cyclists in last month’s Le Tour de Filipinas, made a giant stride in the Asian nations’ rankings of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and is now No. 4 overall in the continent.
Rabina also made a significant move and is now No. 30 in the Asian cyclists’ individual rankings, a development that cemented cycling’s potential in the international arena.
Rustom Lim, only 19, also made his presence felt. The Best Young Rider (under 23) of the Le Tour, also the first Filipino to win the award in a UCI race, made it to No. 91.
However, the organizer of the annual Le Tour de Filipinas, the only international race in the country which staged its third edition last April 14 to 17, lamented cycling’s exclusion from the Philippine Sports Commission’s (PSC) 10 focus sports under its 2011-2016 Philippine Sports Roadmap.
The 10 focus sports in the Road Map program which President Benigno S. Aquino III pledged to support for P1 billion are Olympic sports boxing, taekwondo, athletics, swimming, archery, wrestling and weightlifting and non-Olympic sports wushu, billiards and bowling.
“If you review the results of this year’s Le Tour de Filipinas, you will note that the Philippines emerged as the overall winner, both in the individual and team categories. This, in itself, is a record that has not been obtained since 2010 [Le Tour inaugurals],” said Le Tour organizer Gary Cayton of the Dynamic Outsource Solutions, Inc. in a letter to POC president Jose Cojuangco Jr.
“These achievements are considered as more significant as these were gained despite the challenge presented by 11 foreign teams [as against five Philippine squads], which included the top two Asian teams and the best Asian rider listed in the UCI. Clearly, the Philippines’ victory demonstrates and presents the ability of the Filipino road cyclists to the rest of the world, particularly, Asia.”
Added Cayton: “It is therefore a surprise to many that the President failed to mention cycling as one of the sports events that the PSC identified in its 10-sport ‘focus’ program,” he added.
Because of his achievement, the UCI, in his website, acknowledged Rabina as “Hero of the Philippines” as the world governing body for the sport noted a major shakeup in the continental ranking.
Interestingly, the 31-year-old Rabina’s top 30 ranking does not reflect his real status as an Asian on the list. Before him are 13 true-blue Asians led by the ageless Wong Kam Po of Hongkong-China, making him technically as 14th in the rankings because the rest are Europeans or American riders employed by Asian-based UCI teams. Also interesting to note is that Rabina rode for Go21 Cycling Team, a club team.
In the Asia Tour Asian nations’ rankings, the Philippines jumped from 12th to fourth overall behind pereniall top-notchers Japan, Malaysia and Hongkong. Below the Philippines are Iran, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, South Korea, Indonesia and China in that order.
The other Le Tour veterans who made it to the UCI Asian rankings are Joel Calderon (52), Oscar Rendole (58), Le Tour Best Young Rider 19-year-old Rustom Lim (91), John Mark Galedo Guevarra (102), Arnel Quirimit (105) and Irish Valenzuela (144).
LPGMA-American Vinyl, Mail and More and Go21 also finished 1-2-3 in the Le Tour, beating 11 foreign teams—including five UCI continental teams on the top 26 Asian list—and two other local squads.
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