TWO-TIME winner Santy Barnachea leads a big cast of aspirants seeking the 30 berths staked when the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2017 edition holds its first of two qualifying races today at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority in Zambales City.
The 35-year-old Barnachea, who won the inaugural edition of this race five years ago before claiming a second title in the fifth edition four years later, needed to go through the qualifier after skipping last year’s race due to personal reasons and should be determined to make the cut.
Barnachea though will be battling against more than 80 riders that also included notable stars like Army’s Merculio Ramos, Alfie Catalan, Cris Joven, Mark Julius Bordeos and Alvin Benosa and young Navy recruit Jay Lampawog in the country’s biggest cycling race bankrolled by LBC.
“Some of the biggest names in Philippine cycling are joining as well as some new ones whon are seeking glory so we’re expecting a really exciting qualifying race,” said LBC sports development head Moe Chulani.
Apart from the one-day Subic race, Ronda will also hold a second qualifier on Dec. 4 in Bacolod City where another 30 slots will be up for grabs in this event backed by Mitsubishi, Petron, ASG Group, Dans360 and Donen and sanctioned by PhlCycling under its president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.
And oranizers expect more to join in Bacolod after they decided to return to its original top purse worth a whopping P1 million.
The main event is a 12-stage race set to start on Feb. 4 in Vigan, Ilocos Sur and end on March 4 in Iloilo City.
The Subic race will be a 101-kilometer road race that will unfold in front of the Lighthouse Hotel, go through the mountains of Morong, Bataan where the idle Nuclear Power Plant is stationed before it returns back to Subic in front of the Forest View Park.
The top 60 qualifiers will join the 72 riders who have automatically qualified by virtue of their participation a year ago.
Those cyclists include Mindanao wonder boy Ranlen Maglantay, George Oconer, Ronnel Hualda, Julius Mark Bonzo, Rustom Lim, and powerhouse Navy mainstays Lloyd Lucien Reynante, Rudy Roque, Ronald Oranza, Joel Calderon and Jan Paul Morales.
“We can’t hold our excitement because this is a bigger and better LBC Ronda Pilipinas edition,” said LBC Ronda race director Jingo Hervas.
LBC Ronda will officially start on Feb. 4 with Ilocos Sur-Ilocos Norte Stage One and followed by the Ilocos Sur Stage Two criterium the next day.