Navy upbeat despite Oranza’s absence
VIGAN, Ilocos Sur— Ronald Oranza won’t be racing this year and Philippine Navy-Standard Insurance riders are hoping that the LBC Ronda Pilipinas would remain their playground even without him.
The 2017 edition of the 14-stage bikathon unfolds Saturday at the provincial capitol of this Unesco world heritage site with the Navymen seeking to repeat their dominating performance a year ago.
Jan Paul Morales, the track specialist from Calumpang, Marikina, won two of the three legs in 2016 while Oranza topped the remaining leg that put Standard Insurance in the spotlight.
Besides Oranza, El Joshua Carino and Mark John Camingao will also skip the Tour as they go through a much-needed basic seaman course in the Navy.
“But I’m still confident of our chances because we have a combination of experience and youth,” said Navy team captain Lloyd Lucien Reynante in Filipino.
Filling their spots in the team are under-23 riders Daniel Ven Carino, Archie Cardana and Jay Lampawog.
“These riders can pull off a lot of surprises, I see a lot of promise in them,” said the 38-year-old Reynante.
Joel Calderon, the 2009 Tour champion, will backstop Morales for the general classification title worth P1 million together with veterans Rudy Roque and Ronald Lomotos.
A total of 96 riders from 12 teams will answer the starting gun in the 150-kilometer massed start race covering several scenic spots in Ilocos Norte and back to this historic town.
“We’re excited this year because we have a lot of new faces,” said LBC Ronda project director Moe Chulani.
The teams set to vie for the title in the race backed by MVP Sports Foundation and Petron are Army Kinetix Lab, Go for Gold, Bike Extreme, Ilocos Sur, Mindanao Sultan Kudarat, Iloilo, NCR RC Cola, Tarlac, Neopolitan, South Luzon and Zambales.
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