MANILA, Philippines -- If everything falls into place, the riders from the Philippine Navy-Standard Insurance team should deliver gold medals in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam this November.
This, according to Standard Insurance chairman Ernesto "Judes" Echauz.
"They've been training for two months," Echauz said of his team during Tuesday's Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.
"They will be very competitive," he guaranteed.
Echauz has supported cycling and duathlon through the years, and has formed a star-studded team made up of enlisted men in the Navy and employees of his giant insurance company.
For this year's SEA Games, scheduled for November 21 to December 2 in Hanoi, Echauz expects at least 10 of his riders to be part of the national team that will compete in eight events in road race, and two more events in duathlon.
The top riders in Echauz's stable include: Ronald Oranza, Jan Paul Morales, Emmanuel Comendador, George Oconer and Junrey Navarra in the men's team; and Jermyn Prado, Kate Velasco, Mathilda Krogg and Marriane Grace Dacumos in the women's team.
His cyclists, according to Echauz, are "fully equipped." The male riders have been training in Naic, Cavite for the past two months, while the female cyclists are based in Subic.
"In Naic, we have a building with 14 rooms, with a swimming pool and a gym that is comparable to the top gyms here in Manila. The place is very conducive to training," said Echauz, who is also the president of the Philippine Sailing Association.
Because sailing is not on the SEA Games program this year, Echauz is pouring all of his support to the cycling and duathlon teams.
There will be eight gold medals at stake in cycling – two each in the team time trial (TTT), individual time trial (ITT), criterium and massed start, where Echauz said his riders are expected to give Thailand and Indonesia a run for their money.
In the 2019 SEA Games, the Philippines as hosts won three gold medals, four silvers, and four bronzes in cycling, including in BMX and mountain bike.
"We should be at par if not better than Thailand and Indonesia. We have a very big chance in the women's because we’ve seen the caliber of our rivals," said Echauz. "In the men's, we will improve in the ITT and TTT."
"And our riders are familiar with the terrain in Vietnam, because they've competed there," he added.