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Riders to hold Baguio training

MANILA, Philippines - Members of the Philippine cycling team left for Baguio City for a two-week high altitude training as they enter the crucial stage of their preparation for next month’s Laos SEA Games.

Integrated Cycling Federation of the Philippines (ICF) officer-in-charge and secretary general Manding Bautista said the team was supposed to train in the country’s summer capital but a leadership squabble with the other group affected their schedule.

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) is supporting the group of Cruz and Bautista. Harbour Centre owner Mikee Romero was the elected president of the group but he took an indefinite leave of absence last month.

“We’re now running out of time, so we have to take this special training to make up for the lost time,” said Bautista, who thanked Romero for his continued financial support to the group despite taking a leave of absence.

Due to a shortened training, the group of Cruz and Bautista would be happy if they could win at least three medals – of any color – this time. Two years ago in Thailand, the country won three gold medals.

The three gold medalists – Marites Bitbit, Joey Barba and Alfie Catalan – will be back to defend their titles but they are expected to meet stiff challenge this time.

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“They are going to face strong opposition this time but we have full confidence in them. They’re out to prove something, so we’re certain that they will fight up to their last breath,” said Bautista, secretary general.

Bitbit triumphed in cross country, Barba in the downhill course while Catalan reigned supreme in the individual time trial.

Other members of the team are Eusebio Quinones, Frederick Feliciano, Jan Paul Morales, Irish Velenzuela, Scott Christian Remi, Alvin Benosa, March Mcquinn Aleonar, Anna Marissa Remegio, Joey Barba, Ronald Gorantes, Jeremy Moore, and Joel Calderon.

The team will take part only in five of eight events, namely: open individual road race, individual time trial, MTB cross country, MTB downhill an women’s MTB.

Other officials backing Cruz and Bautista are Col. Arnold Taberdo, chairman, and Cornelio Baylon, training director. Members of the coaching staff are Joselito Santos, Arsenio Tado, Boy Querimit, Edwin Niyo, and Gerry Amar.

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