CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, LA UNION | Fifty-six riders competed in the most talked-about thrilling 46.1 km-finale of the Tour of La Union 4th edition.
At about 7:07 am, Ms. Gezelle Butala, the head organizer, brought into action the cardiac game as the wired-up riders began to stream the stretch of Quezon Avenue in La Union then made headway to the Municipalities of Bauang, Caba, Aringay and finally to the off-the-beaten-track of the Municipality of Tubao in La Union.
As the race heated up, PNSI rider El Joshua Carino and Go For Gold youngster John Byron Lucero made a head start and drew first blood. The shake-up continued as various riders like Victoria Sports cycling wheelers Kelvin Mendoza and Daniel Ven Carino, EXN pedal pushers Ryan Tugawin and Mar Sudario made several attempts to alter the complexion of the race time and again.
Upon reaching the Aringay-Tubao road, beside Aringay and Ifugao rivers, the prides of Villasis made their presence felt. Dead serious Bonijoe Martin initially jumped ahead all alone of the main field and moments later, another Villasis pride, PNSI all-rounder Ronald Oranza, took matters into his own hands while trying to force the pace and widen the gap. The effort of Oranza, went down the drain, as PNSI youngster Jeremy Lizardo including DReyna young gun, Julius Tudtud overwhelmed the PNSI pit bull.
In the intervening time, Oranza finally collapsed from the lead group comprising the Iloilo province pride Lizardo and Quezon province lad Tudtud. Later these two struggling young guns were overpowered and reabsorbed by the main pack.
Later, Victoria Sports Cycling rider, Kelvin Mendoza and Navy climber, El Joshua Carino, broke loose once and for all but their crack was nothing but fleeting before the race went down the rabbit hole.
Meanwhile, in Anduyan, Tubao, La Union, race commissaire Jazy Fernandez-Garcia ushered the head of the race on the foothills as the Excellent Noodles all-rounder and 3rd man Mervin Barnachea Corpuz went on the attack and brought the peloton to the depths of Tubao, La Union.
However, the campaign of Mervin Corpuz to advance was momentary. Thus, the Excellent under-23 and climber Joshua Pascual, a native of Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya, took this as a cue to not miss a beat and picked up the slack while DReyna youngster Landerson Nebres followed suit on the flank of Anduyan, Tubao, La Union. The peloton on the other hand persisted to buckle down.
As the race progressed and elevation became intense, Pascual led the trailing rider Nebres in a tight spot. Ultimately, the chasing DReyna workhorse bonked, letting the 5’10” EXN young gun, Joshua Pascual, navigate and advance at his own rate and bust the killer ascent.
At this juncture, EXN Pascual went all-out and came to grips with the unfamiliar terrain until reaching the finish line as G4G grimpeur Jonel Carcueva trailed roughly by a minute followed by a known Dreyna climber, Jeffrey Garay.
The author would like to thank Mr. Albert Khimlo Anniban for the provision of images included in this narrative.
1. 56 riders participated in the 46.1 km finale of Tour of La Union 2023.
2. The race saw multiple attempts by various riders to shake up the race, with some successful for a brief period.
3. Joshua Pascual eventually emerged as the winner, navigating the unfamiliar terrain and busting the killer ascent.