LBC Ronda Tour longest stage unfolds
DUMAGUETE CITY—Ronald Gorantes will try to use the same tactic that gave him the red jersey of leadership when the LBC Ronda Pilipinas resumes here Monday with the longest stage in the itinerary ending in his home province of Negros Occidental.
The Victorias native, also the Negros team skipper, said he will again try to keep the strong riders company and jump at the opportunity when he sees one.
“My battle plan is just to stick with the lead pack all the way,” said Gorantes before 214-kilometer stage that will end in Silay City.
The 29-year-old former national team rider and Airman first class holds a puny 10-second lead over Ronnel Hualda of American Vinyl. A further four seconds off the pace is Cebu’s Jay Bop Pagnanawon.
George Oconer of the Under-23 national team, Joel Calderon of Nueva Ecija, two-time champion Santy Barnachea of East Pangasinan, Daniel Asto of Tarlac, Sherwin Carrera of 7-11 and former champ Arnel Quirimit of C&W Pangasinan-Jazy Sport are also on his tail, just 21 seconds behind.
There will be just two climbs in the first 50 km before the speedsters among the 95 remaining riders go at it in Negros’ flat roads.
The Tour’s first casualty was Benito Stalin, captain of Cagayan Valley, who quit after the first stage.
Air Asia King of the Mountain first-stage topnotcher Irish Valenzuela of 7-11 and his skipper Lloyd Lucien Reynante are also in contention at No. 10 and 11 in the general classification after the bonus times were added. They stood 26 and 29 seconds behind, respectively.
Reynante, son of 1977 and 1980 Tour champion Manuel Reynante, said they will try to defend the team lead.
“We do all the work all the time because they are all watching us,” said Reynante, who leads the most successful trade team in the race. The team finished third overall during the Tour le Brunei early in the month.
After Monday’s Stage 2, the Tour caravan again takes a ferry from Silay City to Iloilo for Stage 3 that will end in the northern tip of the island in Caticlan in Western Visayas Tuesday.
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