Le Tour champ yearns for training after ‘slowdown’
El Joshua Cariño was disappointed that it took him two hours to get to his home in San Mateo, Rizal, from his Philippine Navy base in Cavite City—a distance of approximately 60 kilometers.
A car would have covered the route in the same time, so it should have been nothing to fret about. But Cariño is the last Filipino to have won the Le Tour Filipinas and is also a stalwart of the Philippine team.
“I was shocked; that was the second time I rode my bike since the pandemic,” said Cariño, a Navy Seaman Second Class. “The first time I rode was just to look for ATM machine.”
Assigned to the front lines of the current pandemic manning checkpoints, Cariño was off the saddle for almost nine months. And the time it took him to cover the ride home made him realize just how much he needs to get back to training, even under bubble-type conditions.
“I feel that I really got too slow,” he said in Filipino. “I envy those people who are biking in the streets now.”
He has reason to be optimistic, though. National cycling federation president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino has said he is pursuing an aggressive schedule of training and competition this year.
And Cariño hopes to be in the thick of action should that push through.
The Mangaldan, Pangasinan, native captured the Le Tour title in 2018. But it is only now—with cycling experiencing a spike of popularity during the pandemic—that people recognize him in the streets.
“It feels like I’m a celebrity because sometimes people approach you for selfies,” Cariño said. “They know me because now they are into cycling, too.”
Cariño, who won bronze in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games team time trial, famously finished a stage in the 2018 Le Tour alongside younger brother, Daniel Ven.
“It was history that brothers won 1-2 in a stage,” said Cariño whose uncles Ruben and Samson Cariño were also similarly a brothers’ act. Ruben is the 1984 Marlboro Tour champ, and Samson is 1975 Picaa Tour titlist.
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