Ronda Pilipinas: Valenzuela heads Visayas qualifier bets | Inquirer Sports

Ronda Pilipinas: Valenzuela heads Visayas qualifier bets

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 01:17 AM February 11, 2015

DUMAGUETE CITY—Irish Valenzuela would love to see himself at the top of the podium when the 2015 Ronda Pilipinas presented by LBC reaches the summit in Baguio City.

The 2013 winner of local cycling’s grandest Tour has checked in this charming seaside capital of Negros Oriental aiming to blaze the trail of the three-stage Visayas qualifying leg set to flag off Wednesday.

Ronda organizers are expecting over a hundred riders in the Visayas qualifier where the top 54 riders—50 elite and four juniors—will move on to the championship stage on Feb. 22 to 27, which unfolds in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, and culminates in high-altitude Baguio.

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“I’ve prepared hard for this race. I hope everything will turn out fine for me and my team,” said Valenzuela, the Philippine Army skipper. “Of course, I want to become the champion again,” added the two-time Ronda King of the Mountain.

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Joining Valenzuela in the race are Army teammates Cris Joven, Alvin Benosa and track specialist Alfie Catalan.

The opening lap going to Sipalay City, Negros Occidental (172.7 kilometers) is largely flat, made challenging by two low-level climbs, 30 km on the outskirts of Dumaguete and near the finish.

Race director Ric Rodriguez said the cyclists will also ride against the wind in the coastal route set to traverse the towns of Zamboanguita, Siaton and Bayawan City.

Other big names hoping to qualify are Oscar Rindole, John Rene Mier and the

7-Eleven/Road Bike Philippines squad of cycling patron Bong Sual headed by Baler Ravina and Ronnel Hualda.

The sons of 1986 Marlboro Tour champion Rolando Pagnanawon—Jaybop, Junvi and Jetley—also entered the race.

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Stage 2 on Thursday is a 156.6 km ride scheduled to begin and end in Bacolod City. The lap features two steep climbs and a pair of downhill drives on the Don Salvador Benedicto mountain pass overlooking Mt. Canlaon.

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The winner and the qualifiers in the Visayas will be known Friday when the surviving riders hit the flatlands of Talisay City and Victorias from Bacolod going to Cadiz City (123.2 km).

TAGS: Alfie Catalan, Alvin Benosa, Cris Joven, Cycling, Irish Valenzuela, Ronda Pilipinas, Sports

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