MANILA, Philippines -- Spaniard Francisco Mancebo Perez of Matrix Powertag Japan bested all comers -- including a pair of Filipino cyclists -- to rule the 2019 LBC Ronda Pilipinas which ended on Tuesday in Pandan, Antique.
Perez, 42, stuck with Ronald Oranza of Navy-Standard Insurance and Dominic Perez of 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21, almost all throughout the 148.9-km Stage 5, which started at the El Pueblo grounds in Roxas City, and ended in front of the Pandan Bay Institute.
The Spaniard finished 50th in the fifth and final stage, 32 seconds off lap winner El Joshua Carino of Navy.
Carino, the 2018 Le Tour champion, bested reigning Tour de Langkawi champion Artem Ovechkin and two-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Mohd Harrif Saleh of Terengganu to claim his first stage win of this UCI-sanctioned race.
All three checked in with identical times of three hours, 24 minutes and 37 seconds.
At the end of this five-stage race that unfurled in Iloilo City and threaded through Guimaras and Roxas City and finished in Antique, Mancebo emerged victorious with an aggregate time of 19:26:30 to claim his first title in a multi-stage race since topping the Tour of Egypt four years ago.
“I’m so happy it was over and we won,” said Mancebo. “The team, not just myself, worked hard to make this win happen, it was really teamwork.”
Mancebo needed a dominant Stage 1 win in Iloilo City to build a massive lead that he then nursed intelligently all throughout the race, fending off his Filipino challengers in Oranza and Perez.
Oranza, last year’s Ronda king who turned 26 yesterday, finished second and the best Filipino rider after he finished 3:20 behind Mancebo, while Perez wound up at third, or just three seconds behind the feisty Navyman.
“I’m okay with the top Filipino rider award. It still feels like I’m the back-to-back champion of Ronda,” said Oranza.
Navy’s Jan Paul Morales (4:03 behind), the 2016 and 2017 Ronda titlist, ended up fourth, followed by Matrix’s Sano Junya (4:21), Korail Korea’s Joo Daeyeong (4:26), 7Eleven’s Irish Valenzuela (4:48), Army-Bicycology’s Mark Julius Bordeos (4:48), 7Eleven’s Rustom Lim (4:56) and Navy’s Rudy Roque (5:42).
Mancebo’s Matrix squad also emerged as overall team classification winner with a total clocking of 58:31:36 ahead of 7Eleven (00:12) and Navy (0:56).
Navy’s Junrey Navarra was overall points classification winner, 7Eleven’s George Oconer the overall mountains classification and Go for Gold’s Ismael Grospe emerging the best under-23 rider.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.