SILANG, Cavite — Overall leader Ronald Oranza of Navy-Standard Insurance will use the next couple of days to study the mountain passes he and the rest of the campaigners will negotiate in three of the last four stages of the Ronda Pilipinas 2018 presented by LBC.
The 25-year-old Oranza is on top of the leaderboard after four podium finishes including triumphs in three of the eight stages with an aggregate clocking of 21 hours, one minute and 56 seconds, or about seven minutes ahead of Navy teammate Jan Paul Morales with 21:08:51 and Go for Gold Developmental team’s Jay Lampawog with 21:19:31.
Rounding up the top 10 were 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).
For the 25-year-old Oranza, who is proud son of Villasis, Pangasinan, his huge lead could vanish in an instant if he does not take care of it.
“I have to really race smart and be extra cautious to avoid accidents or mechanical problems,” said Oranza in Filipino. “That is why we’re already here in Cavite to study the routes because I want to familiarize myself with these ascents.”
Truly, the next three stages will be riddled with mountain passes—the 207.2-kilometer Silang-Tagaytay Stage Nine on Thursday, 147.8km Tagaytay-Calaca Stage 10 on Friday and the 92.72km Calaca-Calaca Stage 11 on Saturday.
This race, which is 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, will conclude with the Stage 12 criterium in Filinvest, Alabang on Sunday.
Oranza knows he’s close to claiming his first ever Ronda crown after he finished second to Morales two years ago and third behind eventual titlist Irish Valenzuela in 2013.
If he wins, he will not only pocket the top purse worth P1 million but he will also join an elite club consisting of Morales, Valenzuela, two-time winner Santy Barnachea of Team Franzia, Mark Galedo and Reimon Lapaza.
“That is my dream, to become Ronda champion. But I have to finish the race first before I think of anything,” said Oranza.