TARLAC — Ronald Oranza of Navy-Standard Insurance kept his hold of the overall lead after finishing second behind George Oconer of Go for Gold in the 111.8-kilometer Stage Six of the Ronda Pilipinas 2018 presented by LBC that started in San Jose, Nueva Ecija and ended here on Friday.
Oranza, 26, and Oconer had identical clockings of two hours and 37.04 minutes that kept the former comfortably perched atop the overall individual race with an aggregate time of 20:17:12.
The proud son of Villasis, Pangasinan, however, hurt his knee and left thumb after he figured in a crash in Camiling, Tarlac where he was bumped from behind by Go for Gold Developmental team’s Roel Quitoy, who in turn got hit by a motorcycle-riding marshal.
Oranza will continue to don the red LBC leader’s jersey in Saturday's individual time trial that starts at the provincial capitol and ends at the Monasterio de Tarlac that sits atop a mountain in San Jose, Tarlac.
“It hurts a lot, I hope it gets better in the coming stages,” said Oranza.
For the 25-year-old Oconer, it was his first lap triumph of the 12-stage race, which is 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, staking a whopping P1 million to the champion.
“I’m just happy to win my first stage this year,” said Oconer, whose best finish came three years ago when he placed second behind eventual titlist Santy Barnachea of Team Franzia.
Oconer though remained eighth in the overall standings with 20:31:22.
The 32-year-old Morales, who is seeking a historic third straight Ronda title, checked in with the peloton nine seconds off the pace and remained second overall with a total clocking of 20:22:20.
Along the way, the Calumpang, Marikina City-based Morales took one intermediate sprint lap to continue to hold sway as overall sprint leader or the wearer of the blue Petron jersey.
Ronald Lomotos of Navy-Standard was at No. 3 with 20:26:09, Jay Lampawog of Go for Gold Developmental team at No. 4 with 20:28:25, Cris Joven of Army-Bicycology at No. 5 with 20:28:48 and Ronnel Hualda of Go for Gold Developmental team at No. 6 with 20:29:47.
Rounding up the top 10 were Navy-Standard’s John Mark Camingao (20:29:53) at No. 7 and El Joshua Carino (20:32:17) at No. 9.
Irish Valenzuela of CCN Superteam also figured in a crash involving a big group of participants in the final stretch and suffered a bruised collarbone and sprained left wrist.
The 2013 title-holder remained at No. 10 overall with 20:32:23.
Army-Bicycology’s Marvin Tapic and Merculio Ramos were also involved in that same crash and suffered scrapes and cuts but are good to go in Saturday’s race.
Navy is comfortably perched at No. 1 in the overall team race with 81:23:35 ahead of Go for Gold Developmental Team with 81:53:13 and Army-Bicycology with 82:10:37.