Asiad-bound cycling team to gear up in Europe

Joey Villar - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines -- The LBC-MVP Sports Foundation Cycling Pilipinas, composed of the country's top young cyclists, will fly to Europe to compete and train there for over a month as part of its preparation for the 17th Asian Games slated Sept. 19 to Oct. 4 this year in Incheon, South Korea.

Ronald Oranza and Rustom Lim, members of the team that won a bronze medal in last year's Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar, will spearhead the squad, which has an average age of 22 years old, that will leave on March to participate in several UCI 1.1 races in Spain and Netherlands.

Mark Bonzo, Jemico Brioso, Joshua Carino, Ronald Lomotos and Junrey Navarra are the other members of the same team that finished a strong second in the overall team race of last month's LBC Ronda Pilipinas.

"Our coming trip to Europe will be split between Spain and the Netherlands where we are slated for several top races," said LBC-MVPSF Pilipinas team's American project director and coach Chris Allison, who will be joined by his assistant Mark Rhome Antonio.

"These races are classified as UCI 1.1 races, which means they are just under the level of the Tour de France. In fact, many top Tour de France teams regularly compete in UCI 1.1 races.

"For instance, one of the Spanish races we will do saw top Tour de France rider Alberto Contador participating last year," he added.

The LBC-MVPSF Pilipinas will be participating in the Gran Premio Miguel Indurian on April 5, the Vuelta Ciclista a la Rioja on April 6, the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta on April 13 in Spain and Arnop Wallaard Memorial on April 19 and several more races in Netherlands where the squad will stay until May 1.

After those tournaments, the LBC-MVPSF Pilipinas, which skipped the four-day, UCI-sanctioned Le Tour de Filipinas to race in Europe, will proceed to Malaysia for the Jelajah stage race from May 13 to 18 and Indonesia for the Tour de Singkarak from June 3 to 12.

"This international schedule is part of our build up to the Asian Games in Korea later this year. With the
support of LBC and the MVP Sports Foundation, we are doing our part to develop the best cyclists possible for representing the country internationally in events like the SEA and Asian Games," said Allison.

"We appreciate the notice of the Philippine Cycling Federation, the PSC, and the POC in recognizing the efforts we are making to drive the sport of Philippine cycling forward," he added.

The team was similar to basketball's Gilas Pilipinas "Road to Spain" program since it has been working on its own "Road to France" project since 2011 starting from the initial running of the largest cycling race in the country, the LBC Ronda Pilipinas, hoping to gather the best under-23 riders and train and mold them to become one of the first Filipinos in history to make it to the Tour de France.

Aside from its major partners LBC and MVP Sports Foundation, the squad is being supported by Nike Park Phl, Rudy Project, First Endurance, PLDT, Primo Cycles and Beyond Yoga Alabang.











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