Ronald Oranza of Navy-Standard Insurance hopes to hold on to his lead as the Ronda Pilipinas 2018 presented by LBC resumes today with a challenging 2017.2-kilometer Stage Nine that starts at the Silang Municipal Hall here and ends at the Tagaytay Convention Center.
After a three-day break, Oranza and the rest of the pack should come in fresh as they tackle the stage that will feature four climbs from Kaybiang Tunnel to Mount Pico de Loro and Mount Marami to the steep passes of Sungay Road in Talisay, Batangas.
And Oranza, who has a seven-minute lead ahead of fellow Navyman and reigning back-to-back champion Jan Paul Morales with an aggregate clocking of 21 hours and 1.56 minutes, knows he needs to be cautious.
“I need to be extra careful, because anything can happen in the next few stages,” said Oranza, who hails from Villasis, Pangasinan.
Morales, who is currently at No. 2 with a total time of 21:08:51, said he would do his best to help Oranza win.
“If I can’t win it this year, I want the winner to be a Navyman, so I don’t mind if Oranza wins it. He has a big lead, and we will do our best to just protect it,” said the 32-year-old Morales, who is based from Calumpang, Marikina.
Jay Lampawog of Go for Gold Developmental team is at No. 3 with 21:19:31, while Army-Bicycology’s Cris Joven (21:20:02), Navy’s John Mark Camingao (21:20:24), Go for Gold’s George Oconer (21:20:51), Go for Gold Developmental team’s Ronnel Hualda (21:21:29), Navy’s Rudy Roque (21:21:42), CCN Superteam’s Irish Valenzuela (21:22:04) and Navy’s Junrey Navara (21:22:08) round up the top 10.
The next two—the 147.8-kilometer Tagaytay-Calaca Stage 10 tomorrow and the 92.72 km Calaca-Calaca Stage 11 on Saturday—as both are riddled with mountain passes.
This race will conclude with the Stage 12 criterium in Filinvest in Alabang on Sunday.
Oranza and the flying Navymen have practically bagged the team title, as they have an aggregate time of 82:19:52, or 32.32 minutes ahead of Go for Gold Developmental team with 82:52:24. Army-Bicycology is at No. 3 with 83:10:47.