5 to represent NMI in Pacific Cup

Posted on Nov 30 2022



The Northern Mariana Islands Cycling Federation will be sending cyclists to the inaugural Pacific Cup set in Guam from Dec. 9 to 11.

Team NMI will be bannered by NMI National Triathlon Team members Robyn Spaeth and Kathy Ruszala and veteran cyclists Willy Barbo, Cesar Fortaleza, and Nomer Mangalinao.

NMICF official Jay Diyco will accompany the five cyclists to the Oceania Cycling Confederation-organized event in Guam.

“I’m expecting the team to give a strong performance. I also hope that we win some medals even though I expect it to be a very strong competition,” he said.

Asked what’s his message to Spaeth, Ruszala, Barbo, Fortaleza, and Mangalinao, Diyco said, “Goodluck, enjoy, have fun, and do your best.” 

The NMICF official said the five were chosen based on their performances in the previous races. 

“Participants must also be a citizen or a resident of the country they represent,” he added.

Diyco said Team NMI’s trip to Guam to participate in the Pacific wouldn’t have been possible without the help of NMICF, Oceania Cycling Federation, Atkins Krolls, and Bridge Capital LLC.

“We want to thank NMI Cycling Federation headed by Vince Seman, Oceania Cycling Confederation, and AK Toyota and Bridge Capital LLC for sponsoring our team.”

Inaugural Oceania Cycling Confederation Pacific Cup set to boost cycling development in Pacific Islands
Expected to serve as a catalyst for the further growth of cycling across the Oceania region, the Pacific Cup consists of a time trial on Dec. 9 and a road race on Dec. 11.

The Pacific Cup is held concurrently with the Tour of Guam. The two races provide an opportunity for riders across Pacific nations to test themselves in a strong regional competition.

The CNMI will also be sending cyclists to the Tour of Guam, namely Diyco himself, Rusty Valino, Jojo Valencia, Nelson Pagaduan, and Florence Antonio.

The last Pacific island cycling event held was at the Pacific Games in Tahiti in 1995. The 27-year absence of an inter-island cycling competition has seen the Pacific Cup a highlight of the Oceania calendar, with strong entries from across the region. 

Aside from the CNMI, competitors from six other nations—Guam, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, New Caledonia, and Tahiti—will contest the men’s events.

In a sign of the strength in women’s cycling, riders from Guam, Fiji, Samoa, New Caledonia, Tahiti, and the CNMI will line up in the women’s race.

The hosting of the Pacific Cup has been made possible thanks to significant Solidarity funding from the Union Cycliste Internationale, who are committed to supporting the development of cycling globally.

Oceania Cycling Confederation president Tony Mitchell said, “The Pacific Cup marks a significant milestone for the development of cycling in Oceania. For the first time ever, our Pacific nations will compete for the title of Pacific Cup Champion.

“This event brings together seven Pacific nations and sees both male and female athletes competing.

“On behalf of the Oceania Cycling Confederation, I wish the athletes competing all the best and I thank Guam for hosting the inaugural Pacific Cup. “

Oceania Cycling Confederation vice president Pacific and Guam Cycling Confederation president Eric Tydingco said, “We’re excited to finally get this event going. As a grassroots cycling country, having the Pacific Cup nested within our annual one-day Tour of Guam race makes the most sense. 

“Not only will we be crowning the first Pacific Cup champions, this race will also determine the Guam National Road Champions.”

Initially planned to be held in December 2020, the Pacific Cup was postponed in both 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2022 edition will feature road time trial and road race, with future editions looking to expand to other cycling disciplines, beginning with mountain bike.

The introduction of the Pacific Cup is the first step in the OCC’s ambitious athlete pathway strategy for Pacific cyclists. With the goal of creative competitiveness of Pacific riders at Oceania Championships and the return of cycling to the Pacific Games in 2027.

The 2023 Oceania Pacific calendar will be announced in early 2023.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at Mark_Rabago@saipantribune.com

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