Cycling: Shagne, Ariana struggle in MTB cross-country at Asian Games 2023

Shagne Paula Yaoyao finished eighth and Arianna Evangelista fell two laps behind in the women’s cross-country Olympic race of cycling’s mountain bike in the 19th Asian Games on Monday, September 25.

“They’re like robots,” was Yaoyao’s reaction to China’s Li Hongfeng and Ma Caixia, who won gold and silver, respectively, finishing the technical race still looking fresh and ready for more as the rest were, simply, spent.

Li won in one hour, 30 minutes and 59 seconds to improve on the silver she clinched in Indonesia five years ago, while Ma crossed six minutes for the silver but with a six-minute gap ahead of bronze medalist Faranak Partoazar of Iran.

Shagne Yaoyao of the Philippines [PSC-POC photo release]
Shagne Yaoyao of the Philippines [PSC-POC photo release]

Yaoyao wound up seventh in the 15-rider field with a 26-minute gap to Li.

“But I’m happy with my result, I really did my best here and I didn’t expect to land in the top 10,” said Yaoyao, a bronze medalist in MTB’s mixed relay in the Cambodia SES Games last May.

She competed in the UCI world championships along with Evangelista last month in Scotland but raced in her first Asian Games.

“I cant hardly believe how tough and strong the Chinese were,” said PhilCycling secretary-general Atty. Billy Sumagui. “While the others were visibly exhausted and drained, the Chinese looked like they could go several more laps.”

For Evangelista, it was tough luck—her front tire had reduced pressure and her rear was super flat. She had to run her bike 2 kms to the feed zone to have both replaced thus losing two laps in the event raced over a 4.8-km loop.

She had to be pulled out of the race along with three others, while another three entries were more unfortunate as they ended up DNF or did not finish.

“It was very dry today and there were too many rocks,” Evangelista said.

With MTB done, the country’s campaign—supported by the Philippine Olympic Committee President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, who also heads PhilCycling, and the Philippine Olympic Committee—in cycling reverts to BMX racing with 2014 Incheon Asiad gold medalist Daniel Caluag teaming up with Patrick Coo. Their event is set for October 1.

After BMX, Ronald Oranza, Jonel Carcueva and Joshua Pascual vie in Road on October 6.

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