BAGUIO CITY – Ronda Pilipinas, the country’s longest multi-stage race, will culminate its 14-stage 21-day bikathon in the Summer Capital. Some 84 cyclists comprising the 12 participating local teams will converge in the city for the penultimate and ultimate stages of the LBC-sponsored Ronda Pilipinas, the fourth longest multi-stage race in the world. Ricardo Rodriguez, technical director of Ronda Pilipinas, said the 130-kilometer race stage from Dagupan City to Baguio City via Naguilian road will be an acid test on the mountain climbing skills of the riders in order to determine their positions in the overall individual and team standings.
The Ronda Pilipinas multi-stage race was originally to start in Butuan City on February 8 and will end in the city on February 27 right in time for the grand street-dancing parade on February 28 and the grand float parade on March 1. The security concerns brought about by the Mindanao government and rebel clashes made organizers forego the Mindanao legs. Instead, an additional 120-kilometer stage flagging off from the Negros Occidental Provincial Capitol and ending in Cadiz City will replace the two cancelled laps that would have gone Butuan City, Cagayan de Oro, Tubod in Lanao del Norte and Dipolog City on February 8 and 9.
The bikers will be arriving in the city on Thursday, February 26 via a 152.5 kilometer Dagupan-Baguio lap as part of the championship round. They will be staying for another day for the 8.8 kilometer individual time trial stage in the morning of Friday, February 27, from the city proper up to Mount. Sto. Tomas, the famous site of the La Presa organic farm and village, and a 90 kilometer criterium around the city’s main streets in the afternoon.
The city government will be hosting the awarding ceremonies of this year’s edition of Ronda Pilipinas which will be held at the Baguio Convention Center. Last year, Ronda Pilipinas held three stages of its international edition in the city which resulted to the appreciation of the foreign riders on the beauty and scenery of the city as they intimated to keep coming back to the city.
“Baguio will always be a major part of the Ronda Pilipinas because of the challenge posed by its mountainous terrain to the riders that is why we decided to finish this year’s race in the Summer Capital,” said Rodriguez. Rodriguez appealed to local residents, motorists and the transport sector to bear with the inconvenience to be caused by the conduct of the criterion race in the Afternoon of February 27 because it is part of bringing in international calibre cycling races to be witnessed by the people for them to appreciate cycling as one of our major tourism boosters.