Ronda champ inspires highland cyclists, bikers
Ronda Pilipinas cyclists have brought frenzy and inspiration to the growing community of cyclists in the Summer Capital, whose number grew tremendously since the declaration of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
Local cyclists and residents have outnumbered the visitors and Ronda Pilipinas 2022 crew along the stretch of Burnham Park Lake Drive where the 9th and 10th stages of this year’s national bike tour culminated on March 19 and 20.
Cyclists from Baguio and nearby towns of Benguet drew inspiration to continue and improve their cycling skills from the professional cyclists, especially from the Iloco-speaking Ronald Lomotos of Philippine Navy Standard Insurance (PNSI) who emerged as champion of this year’s Ronda Pilipinas.
Biking enthusiasts cheered as the 27-year-old Lomotos, who won from scratch, set a record in the country’s professional cycling history as the first son of Zambales to win a national cycling tour and pocketed the P1 million top purse.
Lomotos edged fellow PNSI rider and 2018 champion Ronald Oranza for the top spot after 10 stages of more than 1,000 kilometers of flat roads and mountain passes from different cities and towns starting in Sorsogon.
Lomotos had an aggregate time of 35:31:38 just seconds shorter of Oranza’s 35:31:59 aggregate time and brought home P400,000 for his effort.
Local cyclists and biking enthusiasts were even more inspired by Lomotos when he rose from the ashes and deli-vered a performance to remember in the mountains of Kayapa in Nueva Vizcaya up to Bokod, Benguet towards Burnham Park.
It was in stage 9 from Santiago City, Isabela to Baguio City spanning 174.4-kilometers passing through the Baguio-Nueva Vizcaya Road that put Lomotos to the top and there was no turning back.
Observers say elite bikers from the highlands can compete in professional level given their high-altitude training in the mountains of the Cordillera.
Before Lomotos, Umingan, Pangasinan pride Santy Barnachea is the Iloco and Pangasinense-speaking cyclist, who captured the hearts of highland cyclists and bike enthusiasts for winning the Ronda Pilipinas twice.
The 47-year-old Barnachea announced last week in Baguio he is officially retiring from cycling after more than 20 years of high-level tour competitions. – Harley F. Palangchao