Sorsogon City—It will be a wet, cool and punishing time to many seasoned riders when the 10th LBC Ronda Pilipinas gets going this Sunday here.
Rain has been pouring intermittently for the last two days and three-time champion Ronald Oranza is not used to such conditions.
But he won’t be alone in his quest for glory when action fires off in Stage 1, a 137-km out and back chase around the mostly flat roads in the southernmost province of Luzon.
Oranza, who took runner up honors to Spanish rider Francisco Mancebo last year, will have his Philippine Navy-Standard Insurance teammates backing him up when he shoots for the Ronda top prize.
“Hindi kami sanay. Pero lahat kami ay sasabak sa ulan,” said Oranza after his first practice following a five-day travel to Sorsogon.
The rain and varying but strong wind conditions will determine which rider will take the lead when Stage 1 starts with a southward route down at the Sorsogon City Baywalk.
“Lahat kami prepared. Hindi namin masabi kung paano gagalaw ang ibang teams,” said Navy coach Reinhard Gorrantes.
There will be 11 teams of eight cyclists each battling it out in the 10-stage race.
The other teams are Celeste Cycles, Team Ilocos Sur, 7Eleven-Cliqq, Go For Gold, Team Tarlac, Scratchit, Bike Extreme, Team Army-Bicycology, Team Nueva Ecija and Team South Luzon-Batangas.
The race is presented by LBC in cooperation with the Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation.
Oranza’s rivals for the top purse of P1 million will include returning champions Santy Barnachea (2011 and 2015), Reimon Lapaza (2014) and Mark Galedo (2012).
A 163-km Sorsogon Legazpi Stage 2 takes place on Feb. 24.
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