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Pagnanawon out to steal Ronda thunder

By Jerome Lagunzad

Jaybop Pagnanawon  (MB Photo | Michael Varcas)

Jaybop Pagnanawon (MB Photo | Michael Varcas)

Family affair will be in full display as Jaybop Pagnanawon, together with younger brother Jhunvie and cousin Jhetly, leads Team Bike Xtreme’s title bid in the Ronda Pilipinas 2018 presented by LBC which hits the road starting on March 3 at Vigan City, Ilocos Sur.

Pagnanawon, 29, son of former Marlboro Tour champion Rolando, is aching to keep the family’s winning tradition as he aims for a strong bounce-back performance after failing to make it even to the Top 20 last year.

“I had mechanical problems last year. Hopefully, I could do better this time,” said the Talisay City, Cebu native who will be backstopped by Michael Ochoa, James Ferfas, Arjay Kaul, Michael Farre and Vladimir Ulanday.

The Team Bike Xtreme, owned by Singapore-based Vincent Leow, will continue its title chase under the tutelage of former cycling star Lloyd Lucien Reynante, the architect of Navy-Standard Insurance’s dominance in the recent Ronda editions.

“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. Our purpose is to really help those riders from the provinces who have potential,” he said.

“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 and I because this year would really be one of the toughest because several champions and strong riders are returning to compete.”

Among those expected to give Pagnanawon a tough time in the country’s biggest cycling race 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 are familiar faces led by ‘three-peat’-seeking Jan Paul Morales of Navy-Standard Insurance.