SORSOGON CITY—The LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2022 hits the road again after a one-year pandemic absence as it holds the 11th edition with a 10-stage race that drew the cream of the crop of Philippine cycling starting Friday here and ending on March 20 in Baguio.
The annual cycling spectacle unfurls with two stages—the 12.3-kilometer Individual Time Trial at 8 a.m. and the 59.4km Team Trial at 1 p.m—with both starting at the Provincial Capitol and ending at the Rampeolas Boulevard here.
A total of 104 cyclist from 13 teams including reigning Ronda king George Oconer and 2019 titlist Ronald Oranza of Navy Standard Insurance will battle for the P3.5 million cash purse including a cool P1 million champion’s purse and the bragging rights as the country’s best.
“Expect a thrilling race because we’re all excited for the return of LBC Ronda Pilipinas after we were forced to move it this year due to the pandemic,” said LBC Ronda project director Bernadette Guerrero.
While Oconer and Oranza loomed as the early favorites, there were expectations several riders would give the two a run for their money.
Among them are Dominic Perez and Jonel Carcueva of Go for Gold, Santy Barnachea and Jan Paul Morales of Excellent Noodles, Marvin Tapic and Cris Joven of Army, Rudy Roque of Dreyna, Sherwin Carrera of Eagle Cement, Warren Bordeos of Champs Café and Marcelo Felipe and Rustom Lim of Team Nueva Ecija.
Also out to steal the spotlight are Bike Kings Laguna, Vantage Ilocos Norte, VPharma, Team Quezon Province and Team Ilocos Sur.
Barnachea, who is skippering the Alex Billian-owned squad, said they would come in fully prepared.
“We were formed in 2020 and started to really train last year but Ronda did not push through. That gave us one year of preparation,” said the 2011 and 2015 Ronda titlist.
For Navy coach Reinhard Gorantes, the race will be decided in the last three stages—the 174.4km Baler-Echague, Isabela Stage Eight, 193.2km Santiago, Isabela-Baguio Stage Nine and the Stage 10 Baguio criterium—where riders are expected to tackle mountainous paths.
“The race will be decided in the last three stages,” said Gorantes in the race sponsored by LBC Express, Inc., MVP Sports Foundation, Quad X, Smart, Twin Cycle Gear, Standard Insurance, Print2Go, Elves Bicycles, Elitewheels, Orome, Maynilad, PhilHydro and Garmin.
Petron, Boy Kanin, Green Planet Bikeshop, Prolite, Fujiwara, Black Mamba, Lightwater and LBC Foundation are also backing the event along with PhilCycling and the Games and Amusements Board.
After the ITT and the TTT, Ronda will continue with the 163km Sorsogon-Lergazpi Stage Three tomorrow, the 189.1km Legazpi-Daet Stage Four Sunday, 212km Daet-Lucena Stage Five Monday and 157.4km Lucena-Tagaytay Stage Six Tuesday.
The Ronda cavalcade will then take a breather on Wednesday before proceeding with the 157.4km Lucena-Tagaytay Stage Six Thursday and the dreaded final three laps.