Oranza topples Irish from top behind PLDT team's strong showing

Jan 25, 2013

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte -- PLDT-Spyder's Ronald Oranza snatched the overall individual lead from LPGMA-American Vinyl's Irish Valenzuela even as Navy-Standard displayed depth and experience in topping the 80.4-kilometer Stage 10 team time trial of the Ronda Pilipinas 2013 that started in Vigan, Ilocos Sur and ended here on Friday.

Oranza's team checked in second behind lap winner Navy-Standard in an hour and 45 minutes but it was enough to catapult the 20-year-old Villasis, Pangasinan native from second to first overall, supplanting former leader Valenzuela with an aggregate time of 36:10.29.

"Maganda po yung plano namin ngayon, maganda pacing at gising namin," said Oranza, a two-time podium finisher, with still six stages to go in the race bankrolled by LBC Express.

Oranza's exploits sent him ahead of everyone including the older, more seasoned riders and the best the country can offer for the first time in his young but promising career.

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He is also expected to draw more attention especially now that the Tarlac-Subic Stage 7 winner and Pagadian-Iligan Stage 3 runner-up will wear the symbolic LBC red jersey in Saturday’s 171.4-kilometer Pagudpud-Aparri Stage 11.

"Kaya namang depensahan basta magtutulungan yung team," said Oranza.

The day also belonged to the Navymen, who outshone the field including the young turks from PLDT-Spyder by dominating the stage with a clocking of 1:43.46, or a 1.14 minutes ahead of their closest pursuers.

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"Alam naman naming sa amin itong stage na ito dahil gusto namin ipakita sa mga bata na experience pa rin ang labanan dito," said Lloyd Lucien Reynante, last year's third placer and one of Navy-Standard's elder statesmen.

True enough, Navy-Standard was a class above everyone else as it showed the right mix of depth, familiarity of the route and race experience to zoom from out of nowhere to the overall team lead with a total time of 108.48.27, ahead of PLDT-Spyder (108:48.42) and Roadbike Phl (108:55.39).

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Navy-Standard's strong showing also sent its team leader, three-time Tour king Santy Barnachea from No. 4 to 3 with a cumulative clocking of 36:11.27, trailing Oranza and Valenzuela, who skidded to No. 2 with a time of 36:11.23.

But as he did before, the 36-year-old Barnachea, who won the Tour in 2002 and 2006 before re-emerging to become the inaugural Ronda's first millionaire champion, was quick to downplay his chances.

"Medyo na-ubos ako ngayon," said Barnachea, who held on to the solo lead for three stages starting in the Ipil-Pagadian Stage Two before eventually relinquishing it to Valenzuela after encountering mechanical trouble and a flat tire in the Lapu Lapu-Busay Stage 5.

The 25-year-old Valenzuela, who clung to the LBC red jersey for four stages in a row, said his team was weighed down by the absence of a key member.

"Expected na namin iyon dahil kulang talaga kami," said Valenzuela, who rues the loss of youthful and sprint specialist Rudy Roque to sickness in the Visayan leg.

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"Ang target lang talaga namin wag lang masyado mapag-iwanan sa lap na ito."

At the end of the day, Roadbike Phl's Ronald Gorantes (36:13.14), LPGMA-American Vinyl's Cris Joven (36:17.18), PLDT-Spyder's El Joshua Carino (36:19.24), Roadbike Phl's Mark Galedo (36:24.06), VMobile-Smart's Joel Calderon (36:24.41), Team Tarlac's Tomas Martinez (36:25.06) and Navy-Standard's Lloyd Lucien Reynante (36:25.31) rounded out the Top Seven.

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