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Ole! Spanish rider bests opposition to rule bikefest

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PANDAN, Antique – Spaniard Francisco Mancebo Perez of Matrix Powertag Japan bested all comers, including Filipinos Ronald Oranza of Navy-Standard Insurance and Dominic Perez of 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Roadbike Philippines, to rule the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2019 that ended in this quiet and serene town.

Perez, 42, stuck with Oranza and Perez almost all throughout the 148.9-kilometer fifth and final stage that started at the El Pueblo grounds in Roxas City and ended in front of the Pandan Bay Institute before winding up at 50th in the stage, or 32 seconds off lap winner El Joshua Cariño of Navy.

Cariño, 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.

Ronda Pilipinas champion Francisco Macebo Perez of Team Matrix Powertag Japan.

Ronda Pilipinas champion Francisco Macebo Perez of Team Matrix Powertag Japan.

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, whose best Tour de France placing was fourth in 2005, 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 team work.”

Mancebo used a dominating Stage One victory in Iloilo City to build a massive lead which he nursed throughout to fend off Filipino challengers Oranza and Perez.

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