JAYBOP Pagnanawon hopes to follow in the footsteps of his father, former Marlboro Tour champion Rolando, as he spearheads Team Bike Xtreme in the Ronda Pilipinas 2018 presented by LBC unfolding on March 3 in Vigan, Ilocos Sur and ending on March 18 at Filinvest, Alabang.
Pagnanawon, 29, will skipper a team that also includes younger brother Jhunvie and cousin Jhetly with an eye at making a big impact after a disappointing performance a year ago when he didn’t even finish in the Top 20.
“I had mechanical problems last year. Hopefully, I could do better this time,” said Pagnanawon, a native of Talisay, Cebu.
Team Bike Xtreme coach Lloyd Lucien Reynante, the architect of Navy-Standard Insurance’s dominance the last few Ronda editions, said their goal this year is to develop riders who have the potential shine in the future.
Apart from the Pagnanawons, the other members of the team owned by Singapore-based Vincent Leow are Michael Ochoa, James Ferfas, Arjay Kaul, Michael Farre and Valdimir Ulanday in this race presented by LBC and supported by MVP Sports Foundation, CCN, Petron, Versa.ph, 3Q Sports Event Management, Inc., Boy Kanin, Franzia, Standard Insurance, Bike Xtreme, SH+, Guerciotti, Prolite, Green Planet, Maynilad, NLEX Cycling, Lightwater, LBC Foundation and PhilCycling.
“If you will notice, our one and only big gun is Jaybop because we’re just looking for a Top 10 finish and perhaps several stage wins or podium finishes,” said Reynante. “Our purpose is to really help those riders from the provinces who have potential.
“But of course, we would be happy if we can have a rider, Jaybop or anyone, who can finish in the Top 10, that would be an accomplishment for Vincent (Leow) and I because this year would really be one of the toughest because several champions and strong riders are returning to compete,” he added.
Reynante was referring to Team Franzia’s Santy Barnachea, who won the inaugural race in 2011 and the 2015 edition, CCN Superteam’s Irish Valenzuela, the 2013 winner, and Go for Gold’s George Oconer, the 2015 runner-up who missed last year’s race.
There is also Warren Davadilla, a two-time champion of the fabled Marlboro Tour who has come out of retirement to provide Valenzuela help at CCN.
All are capable of unseating reigning titlist Jan Paul Morales of Navy-Standard Insurance.
A cool P1 million will be at stake in this 12-stage race that will be jumpstarted by the 40-kilometer Vigan criterium Stage One on March 3 and the 155.4km Vigan-Pagudpud Stage Two the next day.