Amid bike boom, cycling road race returns—with old warriors in tow
Back when the country’s cycling tour championships stretched for more than two weeks, winners were defined not just by talent and strategy but also by a strong mind to endure a grueling test of speed and stamina.
Rhyan Tanguilig was the last of those champions.
Now 44 years old and with an established business based in Dubai, Tanguilig will hit the road again, with modest goals this time, when he leads the D’ Champs Cafe-Team Pogi in the Ronda Pilipinas 2022 which kicks off on Friday in Sorsogon City.
“I won’t be racing with them, I will just be riding with them,” he said.
Tanguilig won’t be chasing titles or stage wins this time, and will instead beef up a squad that has two other 40-somethings in former national riders Alfie Catalan (41) and Alvin Benosa (40).
“I’m very excited. We will work as a team and I will be guiding them, especially our young riders. Of course I can’t monitor them while I’m in the race column; it’s something that [will be] decided by the team coaches in the team car,” Tanguilig told Sports Radio.
The team will have young guns including Junjun Pablo, who just like Tanguilig hails from Nueva Vizcaya, RJ Caul and Warren Bordeos, who will be the “GC Rider” or the one they figure would make inroads in the general classification.
“Me and Catalan and Benosa, we have nothing to prove, we’ll just be here and show the young riders in the team how to behave in the peloton in a way that shows respect.”
Prior to his comeback in local races, Tanguilig put up a bike shop in Dubai which he still considers the “bread-and-butter of the family.”
The Aritao native bared that he trained by riding 400 to 500 kilometers a week—less than half the distance that the 10-stage Ronda Piipinas will cover.
“I feel okay. I can say that I can stay with the team. I can ride with the team,” said Tanguilig, saying he will take a cautious approach to the race at the start. “Let’s see in the first few stages if my legs are okay.”
After all, it has been 18 years since he ruled the 17-stage Pilipinas Tour, the last of the grand summer races before sponsors dwindled and organizers were forced to hold shorter races.
This year’s Ronda promises to bring more of those races with 12 teams seeing action led by top contenders Navy Standard Insurance and Go for Gold. Other squads that will answer the starting gun are Excellent Noodles, Philippine Army, Team Nueva Ecija, Dreyna Eagle Cement, Bike Kings Laguna, Vantage Ilocos Norte, VPharma, Team Quezon Province and Team Ilocos Sur.
The interest is expected to be high as cycling returns after a two-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During that stretch of the health crisis, cycling experienced a boom among regular enthusiasts, who used the emptied roads as reason to invest in bikes. Several roads in the metropolis, in fact, have designated cycling lanes to allow two-wheeled pedal kickers to travel safely.
Cycling became the fitness activity of choice for lockdown-weary Filipinos, and it continues to drive bike shop sales up despite a full return of public utility vehicles to the streets.