2013 Ronda Pilipinas bikathon
By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.
FOR THE last two years, the LBC courier company has been sponsoring a bicycle marathon called “LBC Ronda Pilipinas.” Started in September 2011 and originally ran in ten days, the multi-stage bikathon was for professional and amateur riders with multi-million pesos in cash prizes at stake. It was our local bet Santy Barnachea of Umingan who won the first edition, bringing home the P1-million top prize, the biggest purse that was ever awarded in the history of Philippine bicycle racing since its birth in 1955. Elated by the success of the inaugural race, the organizers conducted the second version last May and it was conducted for twelve days with Manileno sturdy rider and former Tour of Luzon king John Mark Galledo capturing the event. The best that our local boys achieved was sixth place in the person of 2012 Le Tour de Filipinas winner Baler Ravina.
The planned 2013 edition has yet to be announced in our national dailies, radio or TV. But the third version will be done early next year (instead of September or May) and to be run in 16 stages. I got this first-hand information from Ronda’s race director himself Ric Rodriguez last Thursday. He said the bikathon next year starts on January 12 and ends on February 1. The factor that led to that decision is to avoid the rains in the months of May or September. Heavy rains with strong wind are the other enemies of the cyclists. These cause multiple spills that inflict injuries on the participants, and that has to be avoided. Rodriguez said that like in the last two years, 16 teams with six riders each will be participating and our province will be provided with two team slots, the east and the west or central. Pangasinan will also be allotted one stage-finish, which will be Lingayen from Olongapo City via Alaminos City. Rodriguez added that for the first time in the history of Philippine multi-stage racing, the event will commence next year in Zamboanga City, and two stages will be run in Cebu (south and north) and the bikefest will negotiate further north (Aparri, Cagayan) via the dreaded Patapat road from Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. The other new route is the Solano, Nueva Vizcaya-Baguio City stage via Aritao and the Kayapa road (Ambuklao Dam) with treacherous five high mountains to cross. This is one of the most taxing and crucial stages where the men will be separated from the boys.
Individual time-trial will be held this time from Pugo, La Union to Baguio City and a criterium event will also be held in Baguio similar to the 1997 Marlboro Tour to complete the three essential stages of the bikathon before the grand finish in Luneta.
According to Rodriguez, two days of qualifying races will be held this on October 27 and 28 in Tarlac City and they are expecting more than 300 participants from all over the archipelago. Galledo, Tabaco, Albay-born and Mapandan son-in-law Irish Valenzuela and Muntinlupa City ace Llyod Reynante who were the top three finishers in this year’s Ronda are already seen to join the bikefest next year. Prizes next year are still being determined by the organizers but it probably be higher than this year or perhaps the same for the individual winner pocketing P1M and another 1M for the team winner. Big cash prizes are also up for grabs for everyday’s top 20 finishers with P50K to be awarded for the day’s top winner. More later after the two-day qualifying races.
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My belated big congratulations to our Pangasinan cyclists Robeno Javier of Villasis and Robinson Esteves of Urdaneta City for finishing first and third, respectively, in the Unilab Active Health Duathlon Championship held in Clark Field, Pampanga last September 9. Javier and Esteves are regular participants in Pangasinan cycling races, including the events that I’m organizing. Cycling is their forte and I believe this is the big reason why they did extremely well in that run-bike-run competition (duathlon) in Pampanga, besting the best in the country. Mabuhay po kayo mga ginoo and keep up the good work.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “And the Lord God Yahweh said to Noah “Thus I establish My covenant with you: never again shall flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth. And I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.” GENESIS 9: 11 and 15