3 critical Ronda legs unfold in Bicol todayBy June Navarro
Philippine Daily Inquirer
LEGAZPI CITY—Every contender in the Ronda Pilipinas is anxiously waiting for the Bicol stretch of the 15-stage bikathon.
And no team is more excited than defending team champion LPGMA-American Vinyl, whose coach and top two riders started riding competitively here.
“Riding in Bicol will definitely give us added motivation,” coach Rene Dolosa, a two-time former Tour champion who hails from Gubat, Sorsogon, said in Filipino.
The cycling club co-owned by LPGMA party-list representative Arnel Ty and cycling patron Eric Sy is looking to strike hard in the next three stages beginning with the 115-kilometer stage to Naga City in Camarines Sur.
Saturday’s Stage 8 from Daet, Camarines Norte, to Lucena City is the second longest in the Ronda at 209 km and highlighted by a tough Category 2 climb, 30 km to the finish.
“That lap is critical. Big changes in the standings could happen there,” said team skipper and king of the mountain leader Irish Valenzuela of Tabaco, Albay.
Making the route special and simultaneously critical is the Tour’s first big climb in Atimonan, Quezon, where a 2.8 km chain of ascending uphill turns known as “Tatlong Eme” could create huge gaps in the standings.
“Everybody is reserving his strength. We’re expecting teams to attack in that stage,” said Cris Joven of Iriga City, Camarines Sur, who has been wearing the blue sprint leader jersey for four days and lies fourth overall.