ECHAGUE, Isabela — Ronald Oranza, Jan Paul Morales and the confident Navy-Standard Insurance will try to keep their stranglehold of the lead in the individual and team races as the Ronda Pilipinas 2018 presented by LBC resumes Thursday with the 179.4-kilometer Stage Five starting in Echague, Isabela and ending in San Jose, Nueva Ecija.
The 26-year-old Oranza seized the overall lead after topping the first two stages—the first a Vigan criterium and the other a Vigan-Pagudpud lap and has never looked back since as he has posted a total time of 13 hours and 33.21 minutes after four stages.
“I will just want to race smart for me to keep this red jersey,” said Oranza, a proud son of Villasis, Pangasinan, in Filipino.
Another Navy bet, defending back-to-back champion Morales, should be in hot pursuit as he is currently at No. 2 with 13:38:22, or five minutes and a second off the pace.
The Calumpang, Marikina City-based Morales is also riding the crest of his Tuguegarao-Isabela Stage Four triumph and should come into the stage in high spirits in this race presented by LBC and supported by MVP Sports Foundation, Filinvest, CCN, Petron, Versa.ph, 3Q Sports Event Management, Inc., Boy Kanin, Franzia, Standard Insurance, Bike Xtreme, SH+, Guerciotti, Prolite, Green Planet, Maynilad, NLEX Sports, Lightwater, LBC Foundation and PhilCycling.
“I’m expecting it, I just have to be ready,” said Oranza in Filipino.
Morales, who is eyeing a third straight crown, however, is more concerned in helping win both the individual and team titles.
“I don’t me myself winning it again this year,” said Morales. “But if it ends up the winner is not myself, I hope it’s someone from my Navy team.”
Apart from Oranza and Morales, Navy has sent three more of its riders to the top 10—Ronald Lomotos, Jhon Mark Camingao and Rudy Roque, last year’s runner-up.
Lomotos is currently at No. 5 with a clocking of 13:40:57, Camingao at No. 8 with 13:41:50 and Roque at No. 9 with 13:42:44.
Jay Lampawog of Go for Gold Developmental team, Cris Joven of Army-Bicycology, Irish Valenzuela of CCN Superteam, Ronnel Hualda of Go for Gold and Leonel Dimaano of Team Franzia are all expected to make a stand.
Lampawog is at No. 3 with 13:40:16, Joven at No. 4 with 13:40:35, Valenzuela at No. 6 with 13:41:22, Hualda at No. 7 with 13:41:34 and Dimaano at No. 10 with 13:43:11.
Navy will also try strengthen its grip of the team lead with a total time of 54:26:06, or less than 18 minutes ahead of its closest pursuer Go for Gold Developmental team with 54:44:01.
Army-Bicycology is at No. 3 with 54:55:26.