THE LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2016 goes to Negros Occidental and Panay Islands for the Visayas Leg starting on Friday.
Focus is on Jan Paul Morales and the powerhouse Navy-Standard Insurance team that dominated the Mindanao Leg.
Among those looking to steal the limelight are Mindanao riders James Paolo Ferfas and Ranlean Maglantay, who captured the hearts of race fans with fine performances on inferior equipment.
Ferfas, a 22-year-old rider from Marbel, South Cotabato, rode the race of his life and took 10th spot overall, while the 18-year-old Maglantay wound up in the top 20.
The two did it with limited budget, tattered non-racing rubber shoes, old uniforms and outdated bike gear.
"We just want to race," said Ferfas.
"This a dream, racing in Ronda Pilipinas," said Maglantay, who was disqualified at first due to technical issues but was allowed to enter at the last minute.
With the help of LBC, LBC Express and MVP Sports Foundation, Ferfas and Maglantay were given brand-new gear including helmet, gloves, cycling shoes and were loaned competition bikes worth around P400,000 apiece. The two riders will also compete in the Visayas and Luzon legs, all expenses paid.
"This is what LBC Ronda Pilipinas is all about, we move lives," said LBC Ronda project director Moe Chulani.
The LBC Express-backed event is sanctioned by PhilCycling and sponsored by Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation, Petron and Versa Radio-Tech 1 Corp. with Maynilad and NLEX as minor sponsors.