BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya — Ronald Oranza joined a short list of Filipino stage winners in Le Tour de Filipinas as he ruled Stage Two, a 157.9 kilometer race from Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija to Nueva Vizcaya's capitol on a scorching Monday afternoon.
Oranza, winner of a local multi-stage race, finished the race in three hours, 48 minutes and 34 seconds, just three seconds ahead of a 14-man chase group.
After the race stalled in Bulacan and Pampanga traffic, the towns of Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya provided the perfect stage for a thrilling race for the cyclists.
This gave the opportunity for Oranza, a 26-year-old rider from Villasis, Pangasinan, to shine as he pulled ahead in the early goings to become the first Filipino rider to win a stage since Mark Galledo ruled stage three in 2014.
"Malaking tulong na pamilyar kami sa ruta kasi malagpasan lang namin yung Dalton Pass, yung papasok, rolling na yun e kaya pamilyar na sa amin," said Oranza who became the fourth Filipino rider in the history of Le Tour to win a stage, following Galledo, Oscar Rendola and Arnel Quirimit.
"Nag-try lang bumanat sa last three kilometers, maganda naman ang kinalabasan," he added.
Oranza broke away early together with Nelson Martin of 7-Eleven until they exited the Dalton Pass where the 14-man chase group caught up.
Oranza attacked in the final three kilometers to become the first yellow jersey holder.
Korea’s Hajeon Jung of Ujeongbu Cycling Team and Metkel Eyob of Terengganu Cycling Team joined him in the podium, both clocking 3:48:37.
Oranza’s teammate Jan Paul Morales will be wearing the green jersey after ruling the sprint phase with 17 points.
Morales, alongside three other PSI members Junrey Navarra, El Joshua Carino and Jhon Mark Camingao, were also part of the large chase group which finished three seconds after Oranza.
Oranza and Navy will now look to create distance in Stage Three, the longest in all four stages as they navigate 185.2 kilometers from Bambang to Lingayen, Pangasinan.