Ronda Pilipinas back on road with 10-stage race in March
The country’s summer spectacle on wheels of the modern time, the Ronda Pilipinas, will be back on the road next month with a 10-stage race that will start in Sorsogon and will end in scenic Baguio.
George Oconer is one of those waiting for the reboot of his sport—and this event—as he tries to return to the scene of his last triumph a winner once more.
“Everybody has been waiting for the races to return. We’ll be preparing hard for this,’’ said Oconer, who won the individual championship back in 2020 before cycling got halted by the COVID-19 health crisis.
The Sorsogon leg will be an individual time trial race on March 11, with the event ending with a criterium in the City of Pines on March 20.
Oconer will ride together with Navy skipper and 2019 champion Ronald Oranza for Standard Insurance, which this early looms as the team to beat with a crew that is loaded with talent like El Joshua Cariño, Ronald Lomotos, Junrey Navarra, John Mark Camingao, Esteve Hora and Jeremy Lizardo.
There will be a total of 13 teams taking part, with the likely challengers being Go For Gold, which will draw power from Dominic Perez, Jonel Carcueva and Boots Ryan Cayubit, and Excellent Noodles bannered by former champions Santy Barnachea and Jan Paul Morales.
A fast, 163-kilometer ride going to Legazpi City will make up the second stage, before the field takes on a 189.1-km trip to Daet in Camarines Norte.
Stage 5 looms to be one of the more punishing stages before Baguio, as it is a 212-km lap from Daet to Lucena City. There won’t be much rest for the field as this will be followed by another grueling stage going to Tagaytay City covering 157.4 km.
After a one-day break, the Ronda will motor to Tarlac City for the 180.4-km trek to Baler for Stage 7 on March 17, before going to Echague in Isabela (174.4 km) the next day.
The surviving riders then pedal to Baguio City (193.2 km) in the penultimate lap.
Also seeking a big chunk of the P3.5-million cash prizes to be given away are Philippine Army, Team Nueva Ecija, Dreyna, Eagle Cement, Champ Cafe, Bike Kings Laguna, Vantage Ilocos Norte, Vpharma, Team Quezon Province and Team Ilocos Sur.
The overall individual champion will pocket P1 million.