Filipino riders headed by former champions Irish Valenzuela of Army, Mark Galedo of 7-Eleven and Santy Barnachea of Navy-Standard Insurance brace for the strong foreign challenge as the Ronda Pilipinas International 2014 unfolds today with a 66-kilometer Stage One criterium starting and ending at the Quezon City Memorial Circle.
Winners of the first three editions of this event presented by by LBC, the largest courier and cargo company, along with sponsors MVP Sports Foundation, NLEX, Maynilad, PLDT and Mitsubishi, Versa 2 Way Radio, Standard Insurance with Air Asia Zest as minor sponsor, Valenzeula, Galedo and Barnachea are expected to lead the way for local teams against seven international squads.
“It’s all systems go for Ronda Pilipinas International 2014,” said Ronda Sports Director Moe Chulani in the team presentation ceremonies at the Hotel Rembrandt in Quezon City Friday night.
Valenzuela has teamed up with former Tour king Alfie Catalan, Alvin Benosa, Reynaldo Navarro, Marvin Tapic and Daniel Asto, Galedo is with Baler Ravina, Cris Joven, Edmundo Nicolas, Jr., Ryan Boots Cayubit and Mark Julius Bordeos while Barnaceha rides with a combination of seasoned and youthful crew of Lloyd Lucien Reynante, Joel Calderon, Jan Paul Morales, Rudy Roque and George Oconer.
Roadbike Philippines, half of the overall team titlist last year, has tapped two foreign riders in Spain’s Edgar Nieto and Great Britain’s Daniel Patten to reinforce the local side comprising of Ronnel Hualda, Nelson Martin, Carlos Gasmen and Dominic Perez while PLDT-Maynilad, is coached by American Chris Allison and composed of under-23 riders Ronald Oranza, Joshua Carino, Rustom Lim, Junrey Navarra, Ronald Lomotos and captain Mark Bonzo.
The Southern Regions will also be represented by Team Cycleline Butuan Mindanao of March McQuinn Aleonar, Nino Surban, Riemon Lapaza, Tots Oledan, Vicmar Vicente and Jemico Brioso and Team Cebu-Kalit Phl Air Force of ageless warrior Warren Davadilla, Tomas Martinez, Jr., Oscar Rindole, Joseph Milanes, Lito Atilano and Elmer Navarro.
The seven local squads though will have their hands full amid the mighty foreign cast consisting of the Netherland’s Dutch Global Cycling Team, Japan’s Matrix Powertag Continental Team, Taiwan’s Gusto Continental Team, the Malaysian national team, Thailand-based CCN Continental Cycling Team, South Korea’s Uijeongby City Cycling Team and Infinite-Singha Cycling Team.
The Malaysians are one of the teams to watch having pocketed a silver and a bronze medal in last December’s Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar while reigning SEAG gold medalist Ariya Phounsavath of Laos will spearhead Infinite-Singha in what will turnout a re-match with Galedo, Oranza and Lim, who combined to rake in a gold and two bronzes in the biennial meet.
Interestingly, the Dutch cyclists–Wim Botman, Jeoren Breewel, Harm Van den Sanden, Riys Pieters and Mike Terpstra are all expected to pack power and strength as they all stand at least six feet tall in the annual race backed by Shimano and Cannondale bikes as neutral bike sponsors, the Department of Tourism and the Phl National Police headed by Allan Purisima.
The Filipinos though should have the advantage due to their familiarity with the roads and race routes.
“The foreign participants are strong to tell you the truth,” said Ronda race director Ric Rodriguez. “But I have faith in the Filipinos’ hearts and we are also more familiar with the routes.”
A whopping cash pot amounting to P7.3 Million will be staked with the individual and team overall champion receiving P600,000 apiece.
To ensure that Filipinos get a fair share of the total pot, organizers have also alloted P400,000 to the top Filipino rider and the same amount to the best Filipino team of this race that drew participation from seven international squads including one from The Netherlands and seven local teams.
“We made it a point that only a maximum of 60 percent of the prizes will be won by foreign riders or teams to give our local riders extra incentive and motivation to strive harder,” said Chulani.
The Top 20 riders in the individual overall race of this event sanctioned by PhilCycling are also set to receive a prize with the second to 10th placers taking home P300,000, P150,000, P60,000, P54,000, P48,000, P42,000, P36,000, P30,000 and P24,000, respectively.
The Top Eight finishers in the team event also get a purse with the Top Five receiving P600,000, P300,000, P150,000, P100,000 and P80,000.
The Top 10 individual Filipino cyclists will pocket P400,000, P200,000, P100,000, P40,000, P36,000, P32,000, P28,000, P24,000, P20,000 and P16,000 while the Top Four Phl teams will win P400,000, P200,000, P100,000 and P60,000.
A stage win will be equivalent to P30,000 with the next 19 getting prizes while the top Filipino stage finisher gets P20,000 while the next nine also receiving a purse.
The Top Three in the Best Young or Under-23 Rider, Sprint, and King of the Mountain are allotted P100,000, P60,000 and P40,000.
Stage Two of the race, which covers around 1,800 kilometers of flat and uphill roads, resumes with a 156.7-km Stage Two unfurling in Muntinlupa City and ending in Silang, Cavite tomorrow followed by the 135.9-km Tagaytay City-San Pablo City Stage Three on Feb. 3, 103.7-km San Pablo-Lucena Stage Four 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.
The race continues with the 155.1-km Lucena-Antipolo City Stage 6 on Feb. 7, 172-km Valenzuela-Tarlac Stage 7 on Feb. 8, 182.2-km Tarlac-Dagupan Stage 8 on Feb. 9 and 97.4-km Dagupan-Baguio City via Kennon Stage 9 on Feb. 10 before taking another respite in the City of Pines on Feb. 11.
It will be the calm before the storm as riders plunge into the final, toughest windup with a 72.9-km Baguio City Stage 10 criterium on Feb. 12, 98-km San Fernando-Baguio via Marcos Highway Stage 11 on Feb. 13, 182-km Agoo-Angeles City Stage 12 on Feb. 14, 146-km Angeles-Subic Stage 13 on Feb. 15 before winding up with a 60-km criterium in MARIKINA CITY on Feb. 16.