On March 19, the Circle Verde Chasedown was held in Manilla, the Philippines. Red Bull, The organisation of the Red Bull Last Stand, and the local community teamed up to make the event possible. Circulo Verde, a newly constructed 10-hectre commercial and residential development was the location of the race. The competition featured a total of six rounds that included two qualifying races for the Men’s Fixed Gear which culminated with a final race that saw Ronnel Hualda, of the Philippine National Team, taking the victory and earning a place at the finals of Red Bull’s Last Stand at the Alamo, in San Antonio, Texas, later this year. The 2nd place was for Jerry Aquino Jr. while Agustin Querimit took the last spot on the podium. As we wanted to know more about the race, how it came about, and the ties to the Red Bull Last Stand we spoke with Last Stand organiser Ravi Rajcoomar, and cyclist Addison Zawada who were both present in Manilla for the race.
Photography: Ezra Acayan / Red Bull Content Pool
For people who are not familiar with the concept of the Land Stand, could you explain it in your own words?
What really makes it special is, at Red Bull we wanted to make a road cycling race really special. And first, the format was super important for us. So we have ultimately a number of laps- here we have 40 laps and 40 athletes. So every lap will be taking the last person off the back of the race, with the winner being the last one standing. Hence the name, the Last Stand. So we are excited to use that format, it is easy to follow as a spectator. And it’s a great race, it is forty different sprints on the line and someone is being eliminated in every lap.
What do you think about Circulo Verde Chasedown?
I think it’s great. It’s really exciting for me and I know Addison- we flew here together. It was really exciting because we were able to talk about this, maybe six months ago and work with the local team here and all the stakeholders locally to work to have a really fun event that is delivering something that is for Red Bull and the partners, as well as something really important for the cycling community here in the Philippines. So I’m pretty happy, talking to the athletes, I know they’re really happy and we are excited to do this one and hopefully some more down the road. And again, the real special moment is all the athletes really participating and having a great time. And also that one winner from the Philippines who is able to go right to the finals at the Red Bull Last Stand in San Antonio, so super excited.
What are your thoughts about the local cycling community?
In a short amount of time being here, we’ve been well received- myself and Addison, our Red Bull athlete. It’s been great. The vibe has been awesome, really warm reception from everyone; spectators, fans, as well as all the riders. They’ve been super gracious. And the level of competition and skill is really, really high. This is my first time to the Philippines, first time to Manila. It was great to see the level of competition, it’s really, really high.
Do you think cycling can flourish in the Philippines?
Yeah, I really think cycling can flourish here in the Philippines. As you can see with the athletes here, we have the geared athletes as well as the fixed. They are two different groups: one group is more road cycling focused, wear lycra, follows things like the Tour de France; the fixed-geared guys are traditionally, a little bit more edgy, a little more urban. More tattoos, a little cooler, shall you say? But it’s great that they can co-mingle, exist, and flourish with each other.
We also see athletes at a really wide age group. We have some young riders that are here and also some athletes from other sports that are into cycling. So I think we’re really on the cusp of growing it here and I see the future being very bright.
Is there any advice you can give to Ronnel Hualda?
Be ready! You’re gonna know that you’ve done a lot of work. You’re a great rider here but you now have six months to really up your game because you’re gonna be racing the best guys in the world in one of the most challenging courses so use this as a starting point because you have six months to get ready!
With the chaotic traffic, do you think it’s conducive to bike around the Philippines?
You know as much as it would seem like it’s not, I feel like it is because riding a bike makes it so much easier to get around. Cars, you get stuck in traffic and all these kinds of stuff. When you’re on a bike, you could weave through traffic and makes it a little bit quicker, so personally, in a city like this, I think riding a bike is a better idea.
You’re here for Chasedown/Last Stand, what are your thoughts?
I participated in the Last Stand that was in Texas last year. I won’t be participating in this one, I’m just co-hosting. I’m sorta here to hang out and chill with everybody in the Philippines. But it’s a very fun and exciting format because every lap, somebody gets eliminated so you’re always wanting to go faster and faster. You never want to be that last guy, because of course, you don’t want to get eliminated. So it’s a really fun, really strategic style of racing. It makes for a really good and enjoyable race from the crowd’s point-of-view as well. It’s very spectator friendly.