Excellent Noodles is expected to rely on experience as it seeks glory in the 10-stage LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2022 that hits the road on Friday in Sorsogon and concludes in March 20 in Baguio.
No less than multiple Ronda champions Santy Barnachea and Jan Paul Morales are spearheading the squad that is out to challenge the cream of the crop of Philippine cycling in the annual cycling spectacle that stakes a whopping P3.5 million including P1 million to the overall individual winner.
Barnachea, 47, and Morales, 36, have amassed a total of five Ronda titles combined with the former reigning supreme in the maiden edition in 2011 and repeated inb 2015 and the latter lording it over twice in 2016 and 2017.
And the grizzled pair is hoping to rub their vast experience to their younger and promising teammates Ryan Tugawin, Mervin Corpuz, Bonijoe Martin, Joshua Bonifacio and under-23 riders Mar Francis Sudario and Joshua Pascual.
“We have a team capable of winning, don’t count us out,” said Morales, formerly Navy Standard Insurance’s captain.
Excellent Noodles will be up against a strong field headed by powerhouse Navy Standard Insurance, which is headed by George Oconer and Ronald Oranza, who topped the last two Ronda editions in 2020 and 2019, respectively.
Also seeing action are Philippine Army, Team Nueva Ecija, Dreyna, Eagle Cement, Champ Café, Bike Kings Laguna, Vantage Ilocos Norte, VPharma, Team Quezon Province, Team Ilocos Sur and Go for Gold.
Apart from the top purse, the second placer will receive P400,000 while the third pockets P200,000 with the team titlist getting P200,000 courtesy of LBC Express, Inc., MVP Sports Foundation, Quad X, Twin Cycle Gear, Standard Insurance, Print2Go, Elves Bicycles, Elitewheels, Orome, Maynilad and Garmin, Petron, Boy Kanin, Green Planet Bikeshop, Prolite, Black Mamba, Lightwater, LBC Foundation, PhilCycling and Games and Amusements Board.
Ronda will unfold with a Stage One Individual Time Trial and Team Time Trial on March 11 in Sorsogon followed by the 163-kilometer Sorsogon-Legazpi City Stage Three on March 12 and 189.1km Legazpi-Daet Stage Four on March 13.
It will be followed by the 212km Daet-Lucena Stage Five on March 14 and 157.4km Lucena-Tagaytay Stage Six on March 15.
After a one-day break, the race will wind up with the 180.4km Tarlac-Baler Stage Seven on March 17, 174.4km Baler-Echgue, Isabela Stage Eight on March 18, 193.2km Santiago, Isabela-Baguio Stage Nine on March 19 and Baguio City Stage 10 criterium on March 20.