MANILA, Philippines -- After several of its events this year were wiped out because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine Cycling Federation is plotting a grand return in 2021.
Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino, also the incumbent president of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), said that by 2021, the Philippines can start to host races once again.
"Kami sa cycling, if-full blast na namin, definitely," Tolentino said of their plans during an appearance at the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday morning.
The 10th edition of the LBC Ronda Pilipinas was completed in early March, with George Oconer winning the individual title while Philippine Navy-Standard Insurance claimed the overall crown.
But Le Tour de Filipinas, which was initially scheduled for May 1-5, was cancelled after 10 years of racing. The Category 2.2 race was supposed to be held in Ilocos.
No major cycling events have been held since, but Tolentino is confident that they can get back on track next year especially as cycling was one of the first activities that was allowed to resume by the government.
"'Yan ang unang pinayagan eh. Of all the sports, isa 'yan sa unang pinayagan," said Tolentino, who also pointed out that races in Europe -- including the Tour de France -- have pushed through. "So definitely, next year, active na 'yang cycling, kasi wala masyadong issue sa cycling."
"Hindi naman makakahabol 'yung COVID sa tulin ng bisikleta sa kalsada, 'di ba?" he added.
Meanwhile, Tolentino is still hopeful that Filipino athletes can still qualify for the Tokyo Olympics next year.
"Tatlo na lang, BMX at saka mountain bike, MTB. Sila na lang ang may pag-asa, ayaw pa i-open kung kailan 'yung date ng qualifying. Cross fingers, 'di ba, baka may tsansa, lalo na ang MTB natin," he said.
In September, Tolentino said he hopes to send at least one cyclist to the Olympic Games, particularly Ariana Dormitorio who is within distance of qualifying in the mountain bike event.
Filipino cyclists delivered 11 medals in thee 2019 Southeast Asian Games, including three golds.