THE Visayas qualifying for the Ronda Pilipinas 2015 starts on Wednesday with the 172.7-kilometer Stage One from the Negros Oriental Provincial Capitol in Dumaguete City and ending in Sipalay in Negros Occidental.
Irish Valenzuela, the 2013 Ronda champion, Cris Joven, Alvin Benosa, Alfie Catalan, the Pagnanawon siblings Junvie, Jaybop and Jetley of Cebu, and 7-Eleven riders headed by Baler Ravina and Ronnel Hualda were some of the big names that registered on Tuesday.
Riders from Mindanao were ferried by organizers from Dipolog.
The top 50 elite and four junior riders who make the qualifying time will advance to the championship round slated Feb. 22 to 27 from Sta. Rosa, Laguna to Baguio.
Apart from two Category 4 climbs, the first stage will be a relatively flat race in the western part of the province like Zamboanguita, Siaton, Bayawan and then Sipalay.
The race goes to Bacolod for Stage Two, a 157.8-km race that will pass the mountains in Don Salvador Benedicto on Thursday, with the 120-km Stage Three opening at the Negros Occidental Provincial Capitol and concluding in Cadiz.
Stage One of the Luzon qualifiers is set in Tarlac City on Feb. 16 and Antipolo on Feb. 17 where 34 slots (30 elite and four juniors) will be up for grabs.
The 88 qualifiers from the Visayas and Luzon legs will make it to the main event alongside last year’s winner Reimon Lapaza of Butuan, the nine-man national team spearheaded by Mark Galedo and a composite European team composed mainly of Danish riders.
The race will have a location tracker that can be viewed at www.10-20tracker.com/ronda. It will show a countdown clock before each race and locations of the lead pack, end pack and the red jersey during the race presented by LBC and supported by major sponsors the Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation, Petron and Mitsubishi, minor sponors Cannondale, Standard Insurance, Tech1 Corp., Maynilad and NLEX and sanctioned by PhilCycling with TV5 and Sports Radio as media partners.