Spaniard Francisco Mancebo Perez of Matrix Powertag Japan bested all comers – including Filipinos Ronald Oranza of Navy-Standard Insurance and Dominic Perez of 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Roadbike Philippines – to rule the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2019, that ended in the quiet and serene town of Pandan, Antique.
Mancebo, 42, stuck with Oranza and Perez almost all throughout the 148.9-kilometer fifth and final stage. They started at the El Pueblo grounds in Roxas City and ended in front of the Pandan Bay Insitute, before winding up at 50th in the stage, or 32 seconds off lap winner El Joshua Carino of Navy.
Carino, the 2018 Le Tour champion, bested reigning Tour de Langkawi champion Artem Ovechkin and two-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Mohd Harrif Saleh of Terengganu, to claim his first stage win of this UCI-sanctioned race.
All three checked in with identical times of three hours, 24 minutes and 37 seconds.
At the end of the five-stage race that unfurled in Iloilo City and threaded through Guimaras and Roxas City and finished in Antique, Mancebo – whose best Tour de France placing was fourth in 2005 – emerged victorious with an aggregate time of 19:26:30, to claim his first title in a multi-stage race since topping the Tour of Egypt four years ago.
“I’m so happy it was over and we won,” said Mancebo. “The team, not just myself, worked hard to make this win happen, it was really teamwork.”
And Mancebo needed a dominant Stage One victory in Iloilo City to build a massive lead. He intelligently nursed his advantage all throughout to fend off Filipino challengers Oranza and Perez, who tried and failed to catch up.
Oranza, last year’s Ronda king who turned 26 today, wound up second and the best Filipino rider after he finished 3:20 behind Mancebo. Meanwhile, Perez wound up at third, or just three seconds behind the feisty Navyman.
Oranza was only too happy to finish as the best local rider.
“I’m okay with the top Filipino rider award. It still feels like I’m the back-to-back champion of Ronda,” said Oranza.
Navy’s Jan Paul Morales (4:03 behind), the 2016 and 2017 Ronda titlist, ended up fourth, followed by Matrix’s Sano Junya (4:21); Korail Korea’s Joo Daeyeong (4:26); 7Eleven’s Irish Valenzuela (4:48); Army-Bicycology’s Mark Julius Bordeos (4:48); 7Eleven’s Rustom Lim (4:56); and Navy’s Rudy Roque (5:42).
Meanwhile, Mancebo’s Matrix squad also emerged as overall team classification winner, with a total clocking of 58:31:36, ahead of 7Eleven (00:12) and Navy (0:56).
Navy’s Junrey Navarra was overall points classification winner; 7Eleven’s George Oconer was the overall mountains classification; and Go for Gold’s Ismael Grospe emerged as the best under-23 rider.
Ronda is presented by LBC, powered by MVP Sports Foundation and supported by Versa 2-Way Radio, Juan Movement Partylist, Joel P Longares Foundation, Standard Insurance, Bike Xtreme, Green Planet, Prolite, Celeste Cycles, Maynilad, 3Q Sports, Boy Kanin, Mega World, Festive Walk, Seda Atria and LBC Foundation and in partnership with the Department of Tourism, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Iloilo City and the Province of Guimaras.