Surban on a roll

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Sunday, May 18, 2014


CEBU’s top cyclist Niño Surban scored another triumph as the national team member snatched the gold medal in the men’s elite mountain bike cross-country race of the Philippine National Games in Tagaytay.

Surban was in for a neck-and-neck race in the first few laps and only broke free from the pack in the final lap to win in 48 minutes and 56 seconds, just a minute ahead of March Aleonar with of 49:51. Alvin Benoza won the bronze in 50:18 and Cesar Lapaza Jr. bagged the second bronze in 50:50.

The riders needed to navigate a 2.8-kilometer lap six times. It included a challenging steep uphill and downhill in a loose and technical road.

The 27-year old Talamban, Cebu-native was in top shape coming to the PNG after having seen enough action in local MTB races. He won two titles last weekend—the San Fernando Cross- Country Challenge last Saturday and the first Bugoy Cross Country race last Sunday.

When earlier asked about his chances in the PNG and regaining the stint in the national MTB squad, the local cycling star kept it cool and said he will just race his best as he had an extra emotional motivation going into yesterday’s race.

“I dedicate this gold medal win to my friend and co-cyclist Vicmar Vicente, who died last Tuesday in Tagaytay. Mag time trial man unta unta siya pero nabanggaan sa motor.

He stayed with me when he was training for this year’s Ronda Pilipinas. I was supposed to join his team in Ronda but I backed out,” Surban told Sun.Star Cebu yesterday.

Surban made it to Tagaytay with the the help of patrons Oscar Rodriguez, Jundeb Esquivel, Brian Jereza, Dan Ramirez and Mark Haw.

After bagging top honor in PNG, he will likely set his sights on the next three big MTB competitions.

“Philippine MTB national team will send most of its members to compete in the first leg of Asean MTB Cup on June 13 to 15 in Danao,” Surban said.

But before Asean MTB Cup, two international competitions—the UCI Ji Yawatahama on May 25 and Fujimi Panorama MTB on June 1— are bound to test the MTB prowess of Surban.

Surban earlier divulge that he aims to the possibility of finishing in the Top 10 in Japan this year.

“Last year I was on top 20, I wanted to improve that this year. But this will not be easy since strong riders are there, especially the Thai national team,” Surban said.

Meanwhile, a Cebuano mountain biker John Renee Mier also shined in the U23 division. He finished with a silver medal in 56:06. (RSC)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 19, 2014.

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