Sixty-two riders including four professional superteams such as Philippine Navy Standard Insurance, Go For Gold, 7-Eleven and Excellent Noodles, accepted the highly anticipated Excellent Noodles sponsored-cycling challenge, mustered in Baywalk Lingayen on 19 December 2021.
The honorable Lingayen Mayor Leopoldo N. Bataoil and other dignitaries graced the Jess Garcia Jr. Birthday Bikefest in conjunction with the 76th birthday of the Singing Cyclist and the three-time national tour champion and in relation to the 77th year commemoration of Lingayen Gulf Landing which brought the veteran race director into being through his United States army personnel dad and namesake, Jesus Garcia Sr., who met his mother in Mangaldan town during the monumental turn of events in early 1945.
After the ceremonial flag-off in Lingayen Baywalk, the 62 pedal pushers streamed and swarmed into the Lingayen back streets and national road for the four-kilometer neutral zone, before they completely engaged in the 63-kilometer scheduled flat racecourse. It covers the townships of Lingayen, Bugallon and Labrador.
The aggression started as the escapees from the superteams initiated the early no-holds-barred attack and break.
Moments later, two riders composed of Jan Paul Morales and Dennis Cabaldon jumped ahead of the raging peloton somewhere in Labrador in the opening kilometers.
Shortly, Navy rouler Ronald Oranza and Excellent Noodles wheeler Joshua Pascual appeared on the horizon and swiftly hunted down Cabaldon and Morales in front that led to the first official break in Lingayen.
However, the short-lived four-man breakaway was taken over by four other riders including the solo chaser, Excellent noodles rider Mervin Corpuz, who made into the third short-break, dubbed the first Lucky 9, comprised of four Excellent Noodles, one Philippine Navy, one Go For Gold, one 7 Eleven rider and two more riders that formed the lead pack line up.
Sensing the headwinds would give advantage to the main pack, Navy youngster Esteve Hora and Excellent Noodles team captain Santy Barnachea meanwhile led the stormy peloton to hold the third short break at bay somewhere in Barangay Magtaking in Bugallon town.
Nonetheless, Marco Salvador Lumanog, a solo race leader donning a 7-Eleven jersey, survived and slipped away from the amalgamation, but his guts did not last long when the peloton, towed by Kenneth Maramba, smashed Lumanog.
At this juncture, Maramba had already edged out the peloton behind not until Sherwin Carrera and Ryan Tugawin quickly pulled away followed by George Oconer and Joshua Bonifacio in the peloton to overtake Maramba somewhere in Labrador.
The quartet only lasted for 3 kilometers or so, when Aidan James Mendoza (4), Richard Jabunan (38), Joshua Pascual (37), an unidentified rider (46) and Rustom Lim (20) checked in somewhere in Lingayen.
The reshuffling of the lead pack had continued until the final long break composed of another set of nine-wheelers formed in the process.
The final long break composed of Jinggo Tabayoyong (23), Sherwin Carrera 19, Navy Rider George Oconer (07), Go For Gold standout Daniel Ven Carino (27) with Rustom Lim (20), an unidentified rider (46) and Excellent Noodles top guns Ryan Tugawin (31), Mar Sudario (36) and Joshua Pascual (37) formed and ruled after capping off the first 15 kilometers of the racecourse or 6 kilometers before the second lap.
As they reached the final lap, the lead pack became more aggressive than ever. Few riders attempted to break from the established first group.
However, after remaining intact for 37 kilometers or so, one rider was dropped from the lead pack, resorting to 8 surviving riders in front.
The tension had built up once and for all as the rivalry among the eight remaining riders became turbulent past the final ten kilometers.
Relentlessly, George Luis Oconer instigated the would-be final break which includes Ryan Tugawin and Daniel Ven Carino while the five remaining riders came up short to return to the front.
As a result, the neck-and-neck race and extreme rivalry brewed as the trio of Ryan Tugawin, George Oconer and Daniel Ven Carino continued to charge and kept a tight grip on the lead, leaving the five struggling chasers including the veteran riders Rustom Lim, Sherwin Carrera and others on their heels.
The late-race attack was initiated by Carino a hundred meters away which prompted Tugawin and Oconer to launch a sprint at full throttle, astounding hundreds of spectators in attendance.
Ryan Tugawin, a native of Nueva Vizcaya, capped off the race first in a jaw-dropping, nail-biting photo finish with George Oconer who sprinted to second ahead of Go for Gold rider Daniel Ven Carino.