hits it big
By Chito dela Vega , Philippine Daily Inquirer
Stage Winners: 1. Querimit, A. (RP); 2. Hamad, MM (Mal); 3. Espiritu, V. (RP); 4. Davadilla, W. (RP); 5. Espiritu, V. (RP); 6. Luzon, B. (NE); 7. Querimit, A. (RP); 8. Domingo, E. (RP); 9a. Tang XZ (CH); 9b. Pan GC (CH); 10. Davadilla, W. (RP); 11. Domingo, E. (RP); 12. Luzon, B. (NE); 13. Espiritu, V. (RP); 14. Espiritu, V. (RP); 15. Wong KP (HK); 16. Jazul, C. (RP).
WARREN Davadilla may be the smallest man on the Philippine team, but he was its biggest star yesterday when he became overall champion of the Marlboro Centennial Tour which ended before a huge crowd at the Luneta.
Actually, Davadilla's claiming the Tour title completed the National squad's sweep of all the major awards in this 19-day, 16-stage race.
All six members of the Philippine team stood resplendent in their red, white and blue jerseys at the podium with no less than President Fidel V. Ramos handing out their trophies as the team champion. It was the first time that this race, formerly called the Tour of Luzon but re-christened Marlboro Tour in 1979, had the Philippine president gracing the award ceremonies.
Also a dominant figure was former champion and RP Team skipper Victor Espiritu, who bagged three awards--the best young rider, king of the mountain and points winner.
Enrique Domingo, another National rider, was this year's sprint king.
But it was the child-like Davadilla's coronation which captivated the crowd's imagination as he bested not only the cream of local cycling but the finest riders from five other countries, led by dethroned champion Wong Kam Po of Hong Kong.
Even Wong was fascinated by the power packed by the champion who barely stands 5-foot-2 and weigh 100 pounds. Davadilla, Wong said, is ''like a kid because he has a cute face and his body is small. But he performs very well.''
On that cute face of Davadilla are scars on his lips and forehead which nearly cut short his pro cycling career. His first cycling accident happened when he was six years old and learning to ride a bike when he got ran over by a passenger jeep.
In 1991, Davadilla's face smashed on the pavement of the Valley Golf in Antipolo during the National Open. He fractured his skull and sustained deep wounds which left scars on his forehead juts above his lips.
It was his elder brother Edwin, Marlboro Tour rookie of the year awardee in 1990, who prodded him to go full time in cycling.
Now, after only three years in the Tour, Warren had surpassed his brother's achievement.
Davadilla earned a total of P841,583, which includes his P500,000 champion's purse and P83,333 share of the Philippine Team's P.5 million prize.
''Inaalay ko ang pagkapanalo ko sa isang daan taon nating kalayaan,'' said Davadilla, who finished a two-year diesel auto-mechanic course at Guzman Institute in Quiapo, Manila, though he still lacks on-the-job-training to earn his certificate.
Davadilla covered total distance of 2,578 kms in 64 hours, 58 minutes and 57 seconds.
Two-time champion Carlo Guieb of Northern Luzon settled for second, while Espiritu clinched third.
ended up sixth, while Enrique Domingo finished ninth.