TOUR: QUIRIMIT WINS AGAIN, SEES FINAL CROWN

Malolos, May 11, 2003   Tanduay’s Arnel Quirimit was a face of total 
happiness while signing autographs and exchanging high fives with curious 
cycling fans. Just in front of him was Rhyan Tanguilig who was slumped in a 
chair and trying hard to hold back tears while narrating a sad tale to the 
press.

That was the scene in the press tent near the finish line yesterday, and it 
told everything  the thrill of victory for Quirimit and the agony of defeat 
for Tanguilig.

Tanguilig has accepted defeat to Quirimit but showed so much bitterness in 
doing this as he felt being betrayed by no less than a teammate in his 
final attempt to snatch the Air21 Tour Pilipinas 2003 crown.

"Suko na ako sa mga RP riders. Lahat sila kalaban ko," said Tanguilig 
suggesting even his PagcorSports teammate Lloyd Reynante, a member of the 
national team, helped scuttle his make-or-break bid for the title in the 
penultimate leg of the tour that started in Agoo, La Union and ended in 
this historic town right in front of the Barasoain Church.

He was later heard telling a PagcorSports official: "Nag-alaga pala tayo ng 
ahas."

Running second one minute and 39 seconds behind Quirimit before the race, 
Tanguilig even fell further behind as he suffered a mechanical trouble some 
55 kilometers into the race and, to his horror, found Reynante leaving him 
behind.

"Kasabay ko sya nang magka-trouble ako. Pero si Joy Tolentino na malayo sa 
amin ang nagbigay sa akin ng bisekleta," said Tanguilig. "Noong na-trouble 
ako nagkabanatan na. Tulong-tulong ang mga national riders."

The 23-year-old Novo Vizcayano waited for about a minute along Malasiqui in 
Pangasinan to be able to ride again, eating the dust of the breakaway group 
all the way to the finish line. He checked in over eight minutes behind 
Quirimit in the lap won by Bernard Luzon.

Luzon, the Patrol 117 skipper who earlier topped the Olongapo-to-Vigan 
stage, became the third rider to win at least two laps after Quirimit and 
Warren Davadilla. VAT Rider Sherwin Diamsay finished second and Quirimit 
third.

Reynante, son of tour legend Manuel or Maui who is now based in the United 
States, said he didn’t betray Tanguilig because he was defending his place 
at No. 5 against No. 6 Ronald Gorrantes and No. 7 Enrique Domingo.

"Yan ang mahirap dyan pinakikita ko sa kanya na teammate kami. Ewan ko lang 
kung ano nararamdanan niya. Kung ang tingin niya sa akin kalaban, okay 
lang," said Reynante. "Mahirap ang lagay ko kasi naiipit ako. Basta nasa 
gitna ako ng national team at Pagcor."

Before the breakaway group hit the McArthur Highway in Tarlac, Tarlac, 
Reynante took a spill and faded to the main peleton and curiously checked 
in with Tanguilig. Quirimit admitted the national riders conspired to make 
a breakaway when Tanguilig stopped because of a broken front wheel spoke 
but didn’t mention the name of Reynante.

"Pare, wala na si Tanguilig, banat na tayo," Quirimit quoted Warren 
Davadilla as saying.

"Si Warren at Elmo (Merculio Ramos), tulong tulong. Ako noong una tutok 
lang. Pero tumulong na rin ako noong nagagalit na sila," the virtual 
champion added.

The RP riders’ conspiracy brought down Tanguilig to fourth with Ramos 
moving up to second and Davadilla to third 5:20 and 5:38 behind Quirimit, 
respectively. Rounding up the Magic 10 are Gorrantes, Domingo, Luzon, 
Reynante, Alfie Catalan and Felix Celeste. "Dapat lang naman na makuha 
namin ito kasi national team kami. Kung hindi, kahiya-hiya kami," said 
Quirimit, excited with the prospect of the RP riders cornering the top 
three honors at the end of the tour today in Manila.

Tour watchers and experts consider the final lap  a 115 km criterium race 
that will have the riders racing around Intramuros  a victory ride for 
Quirimit.

"Matagal nang naghihintay ang mga Pangasinense na isang taga Pangasinan uli 
ang manalo ng tour. Hiniling nila ito at mukhang ipinagkaloob ni Lord," 
said the 27-year-old rider from Pozzorubio, Pangasinan. The last 
Pangasinense to win the tour was Bernard Llentada in 1991.

Tanguilig seemed to get a better chance in overhauling a deficit of 1:39 
against Quirimit when tour officials decided to make another deviation in 
the lap route to avoid possible heavy traffic in Urdaneta because of the 
fire that gutted the town market Friday. Thus, a distance of almost 50 
kilometers was added in the original route that would have the riders only 
traversing the McArthur Highway to the Bulacan provincial capital.

"Maraming naiinis kasi alam naming matagtag at masikip ang karsada papasok 
sa Pangasinan. Pero sabi ko sa sarili, okay lang lahat naman kami doon 
dadaan," said Quirimit. "Ang dami pa ngang asong tumatawid sa karsada."

But luck seemed to be on Quirimit‚s side with Tanguilig the one suffering 
trouble in the route.

TOUR NOTES: The Intel team, skippered by Warren Davadilla, emerged the 
virtual champion in team competition with a margin of 16‚35.52 over the 
Postmen team of Enrique Domingo. At third was the Merculio Ramos-skippered 
Samsung team followed by Quirimit and his Tanduay teammates, Ronald 
Gorrantes and the Eco Savers, Felix Celeste and the VAT Riders, Bernard 
Luzon and the Patrol 117 team, Rhyan Tanguilig and PagcorSports, Alfie 
Catalan and the Bowling Gold squad, Renato Dolosa and the Gilbey‚s Island 
Punch team, Placido Valdez and the Drug Busters and Albert Primero and the 
PLDT-NDD riders. . . . . Arnel Quirimit had wanted to contest the awarding 
of the King of the Mountain honors to Placido Valdez but decided not to 
pursue it. Both riders finished with 32 points but tour organizers gave the 
award to Valdez for ruling the killer Baguio lap. "Gusto ko sanang 
iprotesta, pero di bale na baka championship naman ang sa akin," said 
Quirimit. . . . . Not counting the penultimate lap, Arnel Quirimit was 
leading the money earnings list with P60,000 with three lap honors and five 
days holding the overall lead. King of the Mountain Placido Valdez and 
Sprint King Enrique Domingo were tied at second with P44,000 apiece 
followed by Roland Gorrantes with P32,000, Bernard Luzon with P25,000 and 
Merculio Ramos and Warren Davadilla with P20,000 apiece. . . . . Quirimit 
has only good words for Jess Garcia, saying the former tour champion has 
been doing a lot of help for Pangasinense riders. "Halos buwan-buwan may 
pakarera siya. Kaya talagang marami siyang natutulungang siklista," said 
Quirimit. (By Nelson Beltran, Star)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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