THE LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2019 starts today in Iloilo City with local teams headed by Navy-Standard Insurance, Go for Gold and 7-Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Roadbike Philippines aiming to fend off the strong foreign challenge.
The Navymen will go for their sixth straight team title while the Go for Gold and 7-Eleven riders, who are both Continental teams, will rely on their international experience to carry the fight for the host country in this five-stage, UCI-sanctioned race participated in by 15 teams of six riders.
Navy is a loaded team as it will be bannered by reigning Ronda champion Ronald Oranza, two-time winner and skipper Jan Paul Morales and 2018 Le Tour titlist El Joshua Cariño and composed of Ronald Lomotos, Junrey Navarra and Rudy Roque, who are all capable of pulling a surprise or two.
Go for Gold, for its part, is skippered by Ronnel Hualda and is comprised of Ronilan Quita, Jonel Carcueva, Elmer Navarro, Boots Ryan Cayubit and newly-acquired Daniel Van Carino, who was formerly of Navy and 7-Eleven.
The 7-Eleven squad will be minus its long-time leader Mark Galedo but remained a legitimate contender having Marcelo Felipe, 2012 Ronda king Irish Valenzuela, Rustom Lim, George Oconer, Dominic Perez, Arjay Peralta.
Other local teams in the mix are Team Franzia of two-time Ronda winner Santy Barnachea, Army-Bicycology, Team Tarlac and a Jaybop Pagnanawon-led Bike Xtreme squad.
They will be up against world-class competition in Terengganu, Matrix, Nex Cycling Team, Korail Team Korea, Custom Cycling Indonesia, Cambodia Cycling, PGN Road Cycling and Sri Lanka Navy Cycling Team.
The event is presented by LBC, powered by MVP Sports Foundation and supported by Versa 2-Way Radio, Juan Movement Partylist, Joel P Longares Foundation, Standard Insurance, Bike Xtreme, Green Planet, Prolite, Celeste Cycles, Maynilad, 3Q Sports, Boy Kanin, Mega World, Festive Walk, Seda Atria and LBC Foundation and in partnership with the Department of Tourism, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Iloilo City and the Province of Guimaras.
The race opens with the 197.6-kilometer Iloilo-Iloilo Stage One on Feb. 8 and will proceed with the 101.8km Guimaras-Guimaras Stage Two the next day.
The cavalcade will then go back to Iloilo for the 179.4km Iloilo-Roxas City Stage Three on Feb. 10 followed by the 146.9km Roxas-Roxas Stage Four on Feb. 11.
It will conclude with the 148.9km Roxas-Antique Stage Five on Feb. 12.
The awarding ceremony will be held in the island paradise of Boracay the same day.