Ronald Oranza tries to protect lead as Ronda Pilipinas resumes with Silang to Tagaytay Stage 9

RONALD Oranza of Navy-Standard Insurance hopes to hold on to his lead as Ronda Pilipinas resumes on Thursday with a challenging 217.2-kilometer Stage Nine from the Silang Municipal Hall in Cavite and to the Tagaytay Convention Center.

After a three-day break, the riders tackle the stage that will feature four climbs from Kaybiang Tunnel to Mt. Pico de Loro and Mt. Marami to the steep passes of Sungay Road in Talisay, Batangas.

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, 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 in Calumpang, Marikina.

Jay Lampawog of Go for Gold Developmental team is at No. 3 (21:19:31), followed by 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).

Stage 10 is a 147.8km race from Tagaytay to Calaca followed by the 92.72km Calaca-Calaca Stage 11 on Saturday. The race ends with a criterium in Filinvest, Alabang on Sunday.

Oranza and the flying Navymen have practically bagged the team title with an aggregate time of 82:19:52, ahead of Go for Gold Developmental team by over 32 minutes. Army-Bicycology is at No. 3 with 83:10:47 in the event presented by LBC and supported by MVP Sports Foundation, Filinvest, Philippine Rabbit, 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.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @spinph