TAGAYTAY City—Nichol Pareja topped the Elite class and Jonel Carcueva ruled the Under 23 category of the grueling men’s road race of the PhilCycling National Championships for Road 2022 on Friday.
What started as an easy ride for the 123 riders—79 of them Elite—turned into an enormous as they took on two strength-sapping climbs—first a 9 % challenge 400 meters straight on that splintered the peloton in Agoncillo and second, the short but cruel Sungay Road separating Talisay in Batangas and this resort city sitting on a ridge with a fantastic view of fickle Taal Volcano.
“When I saw the opportunity, I didn’t let it slip away,” said Pareja, riding for 7-Eleven Roadbike Philippines who finished the 137-km grind that started and finished at the Praying Hands Monument here in three hours, 19 minutes and 54 seconds.
Pareja’s teammate, the veteran Marcelo Felipe, kept him company most of the Sungay climb but had to settle for the silver medal after crossing the finish in front of an enthusiastic crowd 14 seconds later.
Philippine Navy-Standard Insurance’s Jhon Mark Camingao crossed a tad behind Felipe to complete the podium of the centerpiece event of the championships organized by PhilCycling and Philippine Olympic Committee President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino and co-presented by Standard Insurance, MVP Sports Foundation and Smart and backed by Chooks-to-Go, San Miguel Corp., Petron, Le Tour de Filipinas-Air21-One LGC, Tagaytay City, Go For Gold, Cavite’s First District, Batangas First District, Province of Batangas, Philippine National Police and the local National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Carcueva was a warrior on the saddle, too. The Scratch It! bet was fifth overall, but was the best Under 23 rider to also don the national championship jersey that bore the country’s quad-colors over a all-navy blue background.
“It was tough, I had to really focus especially in the climb,” said Pareja a few minutes after completing the race of the championships calendared by the International Cycling Union or UCI.
Pareja finished in 3:20:11.401, almost 50 seconds ahead of sister teammate Jericho Jay Lucero of Go for Gold. Rench Michael Bondoc was the third podium finisher for 7-Eleven in the road race by bagging bronze, crossing some four seconds behind Lucero.