Santy Barnachea will try to defy Father Time, as he chases a historic third title when he spearheads newcomer Team Franzia in the Ronda Pilipinas 2018 slated March 3 to 18 starting from Vigan and ending ultimately in Alabang.
Barnachea, 41, needed to qualify in the first of two Ronda qualifying races in Tarlac City last year to complete his return after a two-year absence.
He didn’t hide his plan of winning a third crown after topping the inaugural race in 2011 and repeating as champion in 2015.
“I want to show them that I’m not yet done and I will prove that, just like our sponsor Franzia wine, we get better in time,” Barnachea said in Filipino.
Barnachea will be backstopped by Leonel Dimaano, Jonggo Tabayoyong, Beejay Nojara, Kim Kenneth Krog, Dennis Gabaldon, Alshyrnel Amiladjid and Mervin Corpuz at Team Franzia, which will make its debut in the eighth edition of the country’s biggest cycling race.
“I have a young and very energetic team and we are optimistic of our chances,” said Barnachea.
Barnachea, however, knows he is up against a tough field that includes two-time champion Jan Paul Morales of Navy-Standard Insurance, George Oconer of Go for Gold, CCN Superteam’s Irish Valenzuela, Army-Bicycology Shop’s Cris Joven and Team Bike Xtreme’s Jaybop Pagananawon.
“I’m expecting this race as the toughest for me because I will face younger, stronger opponents. But I hope to make up for it by relying on my experience,” he said.
Barnachea is currently tied with Morales as the most titled in Ronda history with two apiece Valenzuela (2012), Mark Galedo (2013) and Reimon Lapaza (2014) as the other winners in this race supported by PhilCycling.
A prize of P1 million will be at stake in this 12-stage race that will be jumpstarted by the 40-kilometer Vigan criterium Stage 1 on March 3 and the 155.4-km Vigan-Pagudpud Stage 2 the next day.
Also on tap are the 223.5-km Pagudpud-Tuguegarao Stage 3 on March 5; the 135.2-km Tuguegarao-Isabela Stage 4 on March 6; the 179.4-km Isabela-Nueva Ecija Stage 5 on March 8; the 111.8-km Nueva Ecija-Tarlac Stage 6 on March 9; the 31.5-km Individual Time Trial Stage 7 and the 42.14-km Team Time Trial Stage 8 both in Tarlac on March 10 and 11.
Winding up the race are the 207.2-km Silang-Batangas-Tagaytay Stage 9 on March 15; the 147.8-km Tagaytay-Calaca Stage 10 on March 16; the 92.72-km Calaca-Calaca Stage 11 on March 17 and the 50-km Filinvest Alabang criterium Stage 12 on March 18.
Other teams joining are Nueva Ecija, Ilocos Sur, Go for Gold developmental team, South Luzon and Tarlac Province.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)