Premium on speed in 2nd Ronda PH bikathonBy June Navarro
Philippine Daily Inquirer
SANTY Barnachea shone in last year’s inaugural on sheer wit and stamina. This time, he will have to add speed to his talents on the road.
Teeming with expected high-velocity breakaways on flat routes sprinkled with a couple of time trials, the second LBC Ronda Pilipinas will flag off May 20 with a prologue stage in Sarangani province.
Barnachea, a three-time Tour champion who won the maiden edition of the multistage race last year, heads the cast of 96 veterans and up-and-coming riders vying for the P1-million individual winner’s purse offered by the country’s richest cycling spectacle.
Ronda organizer LBC said the 15-stage race will feature sprint races of 100 kilometers or less in legs spread out across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. A longer mountain stage that will wind up in Baguio City will test the riders’ climbing skills in the second half of the 20-day Tour covering 2,000 km in 32 towns and cities.
Barnachea, 35, will lead the newly formed Team Navy in an attempt to extend his victory run in the Tour against a field composed of national mainstays and team captains Irish Valenzuela, Ronald Gorantes, Alfie Catalan, Baler Ravina and Merculio Ramos.
Team Navy is also a strong contender for the P1-million team prize won by American Vinyl last year. Veterans Lloyd Reynante, Frederick Feliciano and Eusebio Quinones will try to help Barnachea win an unprecedented fourth title.
Staged by LBC Express Inc., the Ronda will have a 15+1 format, with the 15 regular stages kicking off right after the prologue with four legs in Mindanao.
Stage 1 will be a 183.3 km race from General Santos City all the way to Kiamba and back. Stage 2 will negotiate the General Santos-Davao City route; Stage 3 is a ride from Tagum to Butuan and Stage 4 will begin in Butuan and end in Surigao.
Riders will tackle the Eastern part of Visayas from Ormoc to Tacloban (Stage 5) and Tacloban to Calbayog, Samar (Stage 6).
Another ferry ride will take the cyclists to the Bicol Region with the Legaspi to Naga (Stage 7) and Daet to Lucena (Stage 8) routes.