SORSOGON—Ronald Oranza and Jan Paul Morales of Standard Insurance-Navy will be the riders to watch when the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 10th anniversary race unfurls today at the Baywalk here.
Oranza, the 2018 champion, vowed to reclaim the crown he lost to Spanish Francisco Mancebo in last year’s race while Morales, the 2016 and 2017 winner, shoots for his third crown in this annual race staking P1 million to the general classification winner.
“The goal is to stay positive and not to think that much about last year’s experience,” said the 27-year-old Oranza, a native of Villasis, Pangasinan, in Filipino.
Morales, 34, likewise thinks he has a legitimate chance at snaring his third crown, which would make him the most titled Filipino rider in Ronda history.
“I fell good about our preparation and with more hard work, I think I have a strong chance this year,” said Morales.
Morales, however, said he doesn’t mind backing up Oranza or any Standard Insurance teammate in this event presented by LBC and backed by the Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation.
Standard Insurance has fielded in a powerhouse roster that is also composed of former Le Tour champion El Joshua Carino, many-time King of the Mountain winner Junrey Navara, George Oconer, Ronald Lomotos and John Mark Camingao.
“If its me, it’s me but I would think twice of supporting a teammate if he’s ahead of me,” said Morales.
Both Oranza and Morales admitted though that this year’s edition should be one of the toughest, if not the toughest, races in Ronda considering that three more ex-titlists are joining—Santy Barnachea of Scratch It, Reimon Lapaza of Celeste and Mark Galedo of 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Roadbike Philippines.
“This is going to be the toughest field we’re participating in recent years and we’re bracing for a strong challenge from our rivals,” said Morales.
Other teams seeing action are Go for Gold, Bicycology-Army, Bike Xtreme, Tarlac/Central Luzon, Nueva Ecija, Ilocos Sur and South Luzon-Batangas.
Stage One of this race supported by Versa, 8A Performance, Print2Go, Petron, Green Planet, Bike Xtreme, Standard Insurance, Spyder, CCN, Lightwater, Prolite, Guerciotti, Black Mamba, Boy Kanin, Vitamin Boost, NLEX-SCTEX, Maynilad, 3Q Sports Event Management Inc., LBC Foundation and PhilCycling is a 129.5km lap that will go in and out of Sorsogon.