Ronda Pilipinas returns to Baguio

BAGUIO CITY — The country’s premiere bikefest returns to this mountain city after nearly three years of absence, a city official said on Thursday.

“We are very excited that this race is coming back,” city administrator Bonifacio dela Peña said, referring to the LBC-backed Ronda Pilipinas which enters its 10th year.

Dela Peña said Baguio would be the finish line for the eighth leg of the 10-stage bikathon. This year’s Ronda Pilipinas will start in Sorsogon on February 23 and end in Vigan, Ilocos Sur on March 4.

The Baguio leg will start in Nueva Ecija on March 2 and pass through Pangasinan before entering La Union and Benguet via Marcos Highway or Aspiras-Palispis Road.

He said they have already coordinated with the Baguio police to check on traffic and the closure of roads where the peloton will pass through on its way to the Burnham Lake Drive.

“The coordination has been made and we are pretty excited to see who will be crowned Eagle of the Mountain which will surely bolster one’s chances of winning the event,” he said.

The bikers will go down to Pugo, La Union the next day for the trek to Vigan, Ilocos Sur for Stage 10 on March 4.

Race organizers said it would be an all-Filipino tournament with 11 teams, unlike last year when Spanish Francisco Mancebo of Matrix Powertag won the event.

In a statement, head organizer Moe Chulani said this year’s edition of the cycling race is an extension of their support for PhilCycling, the country’s cycling federation, in its Olympic quest following its holding of a five-stage UCI-sanctioned race last year.

The winner will get PHP1 million in the event backed by the Manny V. Pangilinan Foundation.

The race starts with the 137-kilometer Stage One, resume with a 163-km Sorsogon-Legazpi Stage Two on Feb. 24, then the 126.9-km Legazpi-Naga Stage Three on Feb. 25, the longest will be the 212.5-km Daet-Lucena Stage Four on Feb. 26, followed by the 155.4-km Lucena-Antipolo Stage Five on Feb. 27 before taking a breather the next day.

The race resumes with the 128.9-km Lingayen-Lingayen Stage Six on Feb. 29, the 171.9-km Lingayen-Nueva Ecija Stage Seven on March 1.

On March 2 is the much-awaited 177.1-km Nueva Ecija-Baguio Stage Eight where the riders will scale nearly 5,000 feet, before the penultimate 176.4-km Pugo, La Union-Vigan Stage Nine and the closing Stage 10 criterium in Vigan on March 4.  Pigeon Lobien /PNA –