A total of 88 riders headed by returning champions Santy Barnachea, Reimon Lapaza and Mark Galedo will battle it out for the top purse of P1 million when the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 10th anniversary race is staged from Feb. 23 to March 4.
The annual bikathon takes off in Sorsogon and climaxes in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.
The 43-year-old Barnachea, who won the inaugural race in 2011 and the fifth edition in 2015, will suit up for Scratch It while Lapaza, the 2014 titlist, will ride for Celeste Cycles PH-Devel Project Pro Team and Galedo, the 2012 winner, is back along with 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Roadbike Philippines after years of absence.
They will battle 2018 champion Ronald Oranza and 2016 and 2017 title-holder Jan Paul Morales, who will spearhead the powerhouse Standard Insurance (Navy) that will also be bannered by El Joshua Carino, George Oconer, Ronald Lomotos and John Mark Camingao, who are all consistent top 10 finishers in past editions.
Ronda Pilipinas chairman Moe Chulani yesterday said they have reverted to an all-Filipino race in this edition after helping PhilCycling in its Olympic quest by holding a five-stage UCI-sanctioned race last year.
“The essence of the LBC Ronda Pilipinas really is giving Filipinos, especially the younger ones dreaming to become big in the sports of cycling someday, an avenue for them to make their dreams a reality,” said Chulani.
“We’re bringing the LBC Ronda Pilipinas back to our countrymen in our 10th anniversary celebration because this is really for them,” he added.
Bernadette Guerrero, the new LBC Ronda Pilipinas executive project director, said a total of 11 teams of eight cyclists will battle it out in a 10-stage race that will open in Sorsogon on Feb. 23 and conclude in Vigan on March 4 in the race presented by LBC and in cooperation with the Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation.
Backing up the race are Versa, 8A Performance, Print2Go, Petron, Green Planet, Bike Xtreme, Standard Insurance, CCN, Lightwater, Prolite, Guerciotti, Black Mamba, Boy Kanin, Vitamin Boost, NLEX/SCTEX, Maynilad, 3Q Sports Event Management Inc., LBC Foundation and PhilCycling.
Also out to make a big impact are Go for Gold, Bicycology Shop (Army), Bike Xtreme, Tarlac Central Luzon, Ilocos Sur, South Luzon-Batangas and Nueva Ecija.
“It is just fitting that we celebrate the LBC Ronda Pilipinas’ 10th anniversary with 10 stages and several champions like Santy Barnachea, Reimon Lapaza and Mark Galedo making a memorable Ronda comeback,” said Guerrero.
After the 137-kilometer Stage One, Ronda will resume with a 163km Sorsogon Legazpi Stage Two on Feb. 24, 126.9km Legazpi-Naga Stage Three on Feb. 25, 212.5km Daet-Lucena Stage Four on Feb. 26, and 155.4km Lucena-Antipolo Stage Five on Feb. 27 before taking a breather the next day.
Ronda will then continue with a 128.9km Lingayen-Lingayen Stage Six on Feb. 29, 171.9km Lingayen-Nueva Ecija Stage Seven on March 1, 177.1km Nueva Ecija-Baguio Stage Eight on March 2, 176.4km Pugo, La Union-Vigan Stage Nine before closing it with a Stage 10 criterium in Vigan on March 4.