Cris Joven of Army-Bicycology bested Ronnilan Quita of Go for Gold Developmental team and Leonel Dimaano of Team Franzia to rule the 223.5-kilometer Stage Three of the Ronda Pilipinas 2018 presented by LBC that started in Pagudpud and ended in front of the Provincial Capitol in Tuguegarao City on Monday.
Unperturbed by the searing heat that went as high as 39 degrees Centigrade, Joven, who placed third in last year’s race, didn’t waste time in joining the early breakaway group, kept up with the best of them and then outsprinted Quinta and Dimaano in the final stretch to seize the stage victory in five hours and 39.45 minutes.
It was an impressive performance for the 30-year-old Joven, whose recent effort sent him soaring from 23rd the day before to seventh overall with an aggregate clocking of 10:32:53, or a little over seven minutes off the lead.
“I kept telling myself I will take Stage Three and I don’t want to go to sleep tonight disappointed,” said Joven, a proud son of Tabaco, Albay, in Filipino.
Packed in the a seven-man group approaching the final 3km, Dimaano jumped the gun on everyone but Quita was quick to respond and briefly seized the lead before Joven took charge and overtook both in a frantic ending.
LBC red jersey holder Ronald Oranza of Navy-Standard Insurance wound up 13th in the stage in 5:40:28 to retain the overall lead with a total time of 10:25:39, or exactly five minutes ahead of No. 2 Archie Cardana also of Navy-Standard.
Reigning back-to-back winner Jan Paul Morales also of Navy bounced back from a forgettable effort in Stage Two by finishing at fifth in 5:39:51 that sent him climbing up the ladder from No. 9 to No. 3 in 10:31:01.
Dimaano was at No. 4 in 10:32:21 while Quita jumped to No. 6 in 10:32:52 in this race staking P1 million to the champion thanks to presentor LBC and supported by MVP Sports Foundation, Filinvest, CCN, Petron, Versa.ph, 3Q Sports Event Management, Inc., Boy Kanin, Franzia, Standard
Making it to the top 10 overall were Jay Lampawog of Go for Gold Developmental Team at No. 5 in 10:32:34, Ronald Lomotos of Navy at No. 8 in 10:33:15, Juan Carlos Barrios of CCN Supertam at No. 9 in 10:33:29 and Junrey Navarra of Navy at No. 10 in 10:33:30.
Joven also thanked Army Brigadier General Roy Devisa and Col. Joh Divinagracia and their sponsor Bicycology, a bike shop owned by former Olympian swimmer, Phl Sports Commission and Games and Amusement Board chairman Eric Buhain.
“I dedicate this victory to them,” said Joven, who will continue to wear the red LBC leader’s jersey in today’s 135.2km Tuguegarao-Isabela Stage Four that unfurls at the Tuguegarao Provincial Capitol and ending at the Echague Municipal Hall in Isabela.
Oconer, in contrast, couldn’t handle the scorching heat and the super long stage and wasn’t nowhere near in the big guns in the stage to slid from No. 2 overall to 25th.
“It was a total breakdown for me, no excuses,” said Oconer.