The LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2019 has set its sights on helping the country qualify a cyclist to the Olympics for the first time in decades as it holds a five-stage race slated Feb. 8-12 that will start in Iloilo City and pass through Guimaras, Roxas City and Antique.
Sanctioned by the world governing Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) for the first time in the nine-year history of the country’s biggest cycling race, the event has drawn participation from 15 teams including seven local teams headed by reigning champion Navy-Standard Insurance and international teams Go for Gold and 7 Eleven CLIQQ-Air21 by Roadbike Phls.
LBC Ronda executive project director Moe Chulani yesterday said they are in one with the country’s bid in gaining enough points that will secure the country a spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“LBC Ronda Pilipinas was conceptualized to discover talents and give our local cyclists a chance to shine and earn a living. After eight editions, we at LBC Ronda Pilipinas decided to focus our shift to our ultimate goal from the start, which is the Olympics,” said Chulani.
“And it’s been almost three decades since a Filipino made it to the Olympics and this is LBC Ronda Pilipinas’ way of helping the country achieve its dream of sending a Filipino cyclist back in the Olympics,” he added.
UCI is using a new qualification rule in this Olympic cycle leading Tokyo will allows the top 50 countries to make it straight to the quadrennial meet and LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2019’s presence gives the country a chance to earn more qualifying points.
Other local teams seeing action are Army Bicycology, Team Franzia, Team Tarlac and Bike Xtreme while the international challenge will come from Matrix Powertag Japan, Nex Cycling, Korail Team Korea, PGN Road Cycling Team, Sri Lanka Navy Cycle Team, Customs Cycling Indonesia, Terengganu Cycling Team and Cambodia Cycling Team.
The Navymen will be spearheaded by former Ronda champions Ronald Oranza and Jan Paul Morales while Go for Gold and 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Roadbike Phls are expected to rely on their international experience to fend off the strong foreign charge.
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.