MANILA, Philippines - To test the skills of the local riders, Ronda Pilipinas is bringing in a strong foreign challenge for its International 2014 edition starting on Saturday.
If the Filipino cyclists pass the test, chances are that they will have a shot at a medal in the 17th Asian Games in Incheon in September.
“One of Ronda’s main goals is to win a medal in the Asian Games,” said LBC and Ronda boss Fernando “Dino” Araneta.
Aside from Ronda, LBC has also formed the LBC-MVP Sports Foundation Cycling Pilipinas, a team coached by American Chris Allison and composed of the best under-23 cyclists in the country today, to close in on that goal.
The LBC-MVPSF squad, which will join Ronda this year using the product name PLDT-Maynilad Pro Cycling Team, is already registered as a continental team in the UCI or the International Cycling Federation along with 7-Eleven-Roadbike.
Banding together in last December’s 27th Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar, the country won a gold courtesy of 7-Eleven’s Galedo and a pair of bronze medals through LBC youth standout Ronald Ornaza and the team of Galedo, Oranza and Rustom Lim.
“It’s going to be an exciting race because for the first time we’re bring in international riders to race against our local cyclists,” said Ronda sports director Moe Chulani.
Already, the local boys battled each other after three successful stagings on a setting close to the Tour de France or the fabled but defunct Marlboro Tour with Santy Barnachea, Mark Galedo and Irish Valenzuela emerging champions.
And now Ronda organizers are bringing in seven foreign teams headed by the Netherlands’ Dutch Global Team to test the mettle of the hometown riders spearheaded by 7-Eleven PLDT- Maynilad Pro Cycling Team.
A total cash pot amounting to P7.3 million will be staked to winners in this 14-stage, 16-day race that unfolds on Feb. 1 with a 66-kilometer Stage One criterium at the Quezon City Memorial Circle.
The race is presented by LBC, a leading courier and cargo company, along with sponsors MVP Sports Foundation, NLEX, Maynilad, PLDT and Mitsubishi, Versa 2 Way Radio, and Standard Insurance.
The other international teams are Japan’s Matrix Powertag Continental Team, Chinese Taipei’s Gusto Continental Team, the Malaysian National Team, Thailand-registered CNN Continental Cycling Team, South Korea’s Uijeongbu City Cycling Team and Infinite-Singha Cycling Team.
The other local squads are Team Phl Army, Team Phl Navy Standard Insurance, Team Cycleline Butuan Mindanao, Roadbike Phl and Team Cebu-Kalit Phl Air Force.
The race, which covers 1,776.1 kilometers of flat and uphill roads, opens with a 66-km opening stage criterium on Feb. 1 at the Quezon City Memorial Circle followed by a 156.7-km Stage 2 unfurling in Muntinlupa City and ending in Silang, Cavite on Feb. 2.
Next is the 135.9-km Tagaytay City-San Pablo City Stage 3 on Feb. 3, 103.7-km San Pablo-Lucena Stage 4 on Feb. 4 and 148.2-km Lucena-Lucena Stage 5 on Feb. 5 before taking a one-day break in Lucena on Feb. 6.