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Freeman Cebu Sports

Romeo Bonzo

ALLEZ - ALLEZ By Jose Vicente Araneta -
1983 Marlboro Tour champion Romeo Bonzo was killed in a traffic accident last week when a van hit him while he was driving his motorcyle. The rider from Pangasinan was the first rookie to win the fabled crown. (Bisdak Rolando Pagnanawon was the second rookie to do the same feat in 1986) His brother, Modesto, was also a tour champion in 1976.

Bonzo is the third champion to die in a traffic accident. The first was Jacinto Sicam, who was also riding a motorcycle when he met his untimely death in mid 1980's. A few years later, Manuel "Daga" Buenaventura was on a bike when a bus in an EDSA underpass in Cubao hit him. His assailant was never found.

Bonzo was on track to win his second Marlboro Tour in 1985 when an unfortunate incident deprived him of the crown. Ariel Marana, the current yellow jersey at that time, had to cough it up because of a swollen foot he got from an earlier crash. Bonzo simply inherited the jersey, and with a strong team, he was expected to cruise home to victory.

But an unexpected thing happened when Reynaldo Cabingas spat unto the soup of Bonzo.

A domestique, Cabingas wanted nothing but a little glory and a stage win for himself despite team orders not to do so in order to protect his team leader. But Cabingas would have none of it. That made Bonzo furious. He punched Cabingas on the neck in front of the peloton during the race.

At the finish line, GAB officials noticed Cabingas crying so they launched an investigation based on his story. The only rider who stood up for Cabingas was Dondon Romales.

Because of Romale's testimony, Bonzo was eventually fined P150 and 90 minutes was added to his overall time dropping him to 3rd overall. He complained that the time penalty was too harsh but was willing to pay the 150. Modesto also questioned the verdict, saying the race jury favored Rodolfo Redimano, who got the yellow jersey because of the Bonzo's time penalty. He accused the officials (led by Bicolano Joe Sumalde) as favoring a fellow Bicolano in Redimano. Unknown to him, though, Redimano was from San Pedro, Laguna.

Bonzo then consulted his manager, then Public Works Minister Jesus Hipolito, on whether he would continue the Tour (which was on its 17th lap). At the start of the 17th lap (San Fernando to Agoo), Bonzo threatened not to answer the starting gun unless the time penalty was revoked. Surprisingly, 20 Pangasinan cyclists joined him in the threat. Joe Sumalde called their bluff and the 20 Pangasinense cyclists blinked! The race went on without Bonzo, who made good his threat and quit, giving the overall lead to Redimano. Redimano's hold on the yellow jersey was short lived as he quit during the lap due to an injured left knee. The overall lead went to Pepito Calip (who incidentally was one of the 20 cyclists who threatened to join Bonzo in the starting line protest. Reynaldo Dequito, Bonzo's assistant, won the lap. He too was with the 20 protesting cyclists. Calip eventually won the 1985 Tour.
Eurofiles
The stinking odor that is Operation Puerto has now permeated into the good names of 2006 Vuelta a Espana champion Alexander Vinokourov and Spain's number one cyclist Alejandro Valverde. According to Spanish paper ABC, a wallet confiscated from Dr. Eufemio Fuentes, the main suspect in OP, contained a piece of paper with names like "Vino" (for Vinokourov), Valverde, "Manc" (for Paco Mancebo) and "Popo" (for Yaroslav Popovych) in it. It seems that the witch-hunt, aka OP, which I thought ended last July and shelved by the Spanish Judiciary, has been given new life. OP has KO'd so many good names down which included Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich, and has still to convict one rider out of the 50 or so in the list.

Also in the news is the retired Mario Cipollini. Super Mario is being sought by the Italian authorities for tax evasion to a tune of 5-million Euros!

Back to Valverede, there were reports last week that he was about to buy out his contract from his team, Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears, to ride for T-MOBILE at a reported 3-million Euros/year. While T-MOBILE denied the yarn, Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears' director sportif scrambled to get more sponsorship money for the Valvrde otherwise his only marketable star bolts to Germany leaving them high and dry.

(Thanks to Gorio Belen and Dondon Romales for the story)

E-mail: [email protected]

ALEJANDRO VALVERDE

ALEXANDER VINOKOUROV AND SPAIN

ARIEL MARANA

BECAUSE OF ROMALE

BICOLANO JOE SUMALDE

BONZO

CABINGAS

EPARGNE-ILLES BALEARS

MARLBORO TOUR

REDIMANO

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