Luzon leg of Ronda Pilipinas 2015 kicks off Monday(Sports)

February 16, 2015 2:16 pm 

TARLAC CITY, Feb. 15 — The search for new faces and young talents continues as Ronda Pilipinas 2015 presented by LBC moves up North with a two-stage Luzon qualifying leg unfolding on Monday here.

Over a hundred cyclists are expected to participate in the final qualifying before the race heads to the eight-stage, six-day Championship round scheduled Feb. 22 to 27 from Paseo Greenfield City in Sta. Rosa, Laguna to cool, breezy Baguio City.

A total of 40 cyclists spearheaded by eventual champion Boots Ryan Cayubit of 7-Eleven made it to the main event after surviving the gruelling three-stage Visayas qualifier from Dumaguete to Sipalay to Bacolod.

Interestingly, about half of the riders who made it were virtual unknowns.

"We saw a lot of new faces and young riders, which is a good sign since the real goal of Ronda Pilipinas to give everybody a chance to compete and if they excel will have an opportunity to make it to the national team," said Ronda executive director Moe Chulani.

Stage One is a 138.9-kilometer race which is not really a flat course since the riders will tackle some challenging ascents at Monasterio.

It gets tougher in the second and last stage, a 102.5-km lap. as participants is expected to negotiate the ascents in Antipolo the next day.

In the Luzon phase, a total of 30 slots will be up for grabs.

Expected to join the Luzon phase is the national team led by 2012 Ronda champion Mark Galedo, Ronald Oranza, Rustom Lim and Jan Paul Morales, a silver medallist in the Asian Cycling Championship in Thailand last week, and some Navy-Standard Insurance headed by Ronda inaugural winner Santy Barnachea.

Count those who didn't make the cut in the Visayas like Alfie Catalan, who didn't catch the bus for failure to finish Stage Two.

Qualifiers will join last year's champion Reimon Lapaza of Butuan City, Galedo and the rest of the national team and a composite European team all out to chase the top purse worth P1 million.

The race is presented by LBC and supported by major sponsors the Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation, Petron and Mitsubishi and minor sponors Cannondale, Standard Insurance, Tech1 Corp., Maynilad and NLEX and sanctioned by PhilCycling under Cavite Congressman Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino with TV5 and Sports Radio as media partners. (PNA)

CTB/JFM/PR

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