MANILA, Philippines – LBC Ronda Pilipinas champion Santy Barnechea said on Tuesday he is not at all pressured in defending his individual cycling crown.
“Sanay na tayo diyan,” said the seaman second class, who opens his title retention bid on Wednesday in the first stage of the race, a 20.6-kilometer team time trial in neighboring Sarangani on Wednesday.
“Nagkaroon ng pagkakataon last year kaya inupakan ko na,” said the pride of Umingan, Pangasinan.
Now racing under the banner of Philippine Navy-Standard, Barnechea, 36, said he and his teammates have been training hard since January and were aiming to capture overall team honors.
“Kasi kapag inasinta mo 'yong team championship, karaniwan angat ka na rin sa individual standings,” Barnechea, who also won the 2000 Fedex Tour of Calabarzon and 2006 Padyak Pinoy, pointed.
Teaming up with wily and grizzled veterans Lloyd Lucien Reynante and Eric Feliciano, he said “I like our overall team chances more now compared to when I was racing for Eastern Pangasinan last year.”
As who would be his likely hurdles in his quest for a second straight Ronda individual title, Barnechea replied: ‘Yan si Lloyd matindi 'yan, pati si Baler (Ravina, newly crowned Le Tour Pilipinas champion) at (last year’s runner-up) Joel Calderon.”
“Basta magkaroon ulit ng pagkakataon, nanduon tayo,” he said.