By Joey Villar (The Philippine Star) | 01/20/2013 8:17 PM
MALOLOS, Bulacan , Philippines – After holding three successful editions of the Ronda Pilipinas, sponsoring LBC Express, Inc. president Fernando Araneta said the fourth staging of the annual cycling spectacle will go international.
“That’s the plan, to go international after three editions,” said Araneta, who fathered the inception of the Ronda Pilipinas as the biggest, most exciting cycling race in the country today since the end of the fabled Marlboro Tour in 1998.
“And for sure, we will do that next year because we will be given a full year to prepare everything and make it the best ever Ronda edition after our three successful stagings the last two years,” he added.
Originally, Araneta and LBC intended to hold local races in the first Ronda hoping to give the Filipino riders a chance to compete in a gruelling, ultra-demanding race and eventually pocketing the total money purse amounting to a whopping P7.5 million per edition with P1 million each going to the individual and team champions.
Now it’s time for the local riders to compete perhaps against the best of the best in the world.
“Every year, the Ronda as well as our riders are improving and I think after three editions, our local boys are now ready to challenge the foreign participants that we hope to attract next year,” said Araneta.
Araneta is also funding an under-23 team coached by American Chris Allison that it hopes to win medals for the country in international events like the Southeast Asian Games, Asian Games, Olympics and ultimately, the Tour de France.
Interestingly, El Joshua Carino and Ronald Oranza, two of the members of that LBC-bankrolled PLDT-Spyder squad, are currently running second and third in the overall individual standings and just a little over a minute and a half behind current pacesetter Irish Valenzuela of LPGMA-American Vinyl.
“That’s my vision, to send a rider and perhaps a team to the Tour de France. But first, let’s try to win medals in our region,” said Araneta. “And as you can see, we have young, talented riders in our fold like Carino and Oranza.”