Ronald Oranza of Navy-Standard Insurance took his second stage victory on Sunday to snatch the overall individual lead in the 155.4-kilometer Stage Two of the Ronda Pilipinas 2018 presented by LBC that started from Vigan, Ilocos Sur and ended in front of the Municipal Hall in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.
Fresh from reigning supreme in the Stage One criterium in Vigan the day before, Oranza, 25, went on attack mode again, joining the early breakaway group and then finally making his move in the final three-km stretch to take his second stage triumph in three hours, 34 minutes and 13 seconds.
The proud son of Villasis, Pangasinan left behind Navy teammate Rudy Roque and CCN Superteam’s Sherwin Carrera, who finished second and third, respectively, with the same clocking as Oranza.
Go for Gold’s George Oconer, who is tipped to challenge defending back-to-back champion Jan Paul Morales of Navy, was part of that chase pack that Oranza left behind in the stretch past the famous Bangui windmills.
Oranza’s effort catapulted him from second to first overall with an aggregate time of 4:45:14 and he will wear the LBC red jersey symbolic of the leader in today’s Pagudpud-Tuguegarao Stage Three, the longest lap of this 12-stage race staking P1 million to the champion as it will traverse a total road distance of 223.5 kms.
Oranza was quick to dedicate his recent successes to his girlfriend Maribel Marzan and one-year-old son Ronald, Jr. in this race presented by LBC and supported by MVP Sports Foundation, Filinvest, CCN, Petron, Versa.ph, 3Q Sports Event Management, Inc., Boy Kanin, Franzia, Standard Insurance, Bike Xtreme, SH+, Guerciotti, Prolite, Green Planet, Maynilad, NLEX Cycling, Lightwater, LBC Foundation and PhilCycling.
“This is for them. If I win here, I will use it to marry my girlfriend,” said Oranza in Filipino.
Oconer, 26, also made significant stride as he jumped from No. 3 to No. 2 with 4:46:02 ahead of Roque with 4:47:29 and Carrera with 4:47:40.
Unheralded Joshua Mari Bonifacio of Go for Gold Developmental team jumped from nowhere to No. 5 with 4:47:56 while Archie Cardana of Navy, Michael Ochoa of Team Bike Xtreme and Reynaldo Navarro of Army-Bicycology were at Nos. 6, 7 and 8 with 4:50:20, 4:50:20 and 4:50:27.
Morales, the overall leader entering Stage Two, couldn’t extricate himself out of the heavy watch of his rivals and wound up in a 16-man group that checked in at 13th place in 3:40:17 and skidded to ninth overall with 4:51:23.
“They’re all over me,” said Morales, who also complained of being hot under the weather.
Go for Gold’s Jonel Carcueva rounded up the top 10 with 4:51:47.
Two-time champion Santy Barnachea of Team Franzia and 2013 titlist Irish Valenzuela of CCN Superteam continued to pace themselves and were at 19th and 27th with times of 4:53:12 and 4:53:16, respectively.
Valenzuela, 30, was part of the lead pack midway in the race but faded in the final 40km, no thanks to lack of nourishment during the race.
“I was supposed to dedicate it to my wife had I won. It’s her birthday today (yesterday),” said Valenzuela referring to Rebecca, a Spaniard.
Navy continued to lead the team race with a total time of 19:14:44 while Go for Gold Developmental leapfrogged to second with 19:24:34, 18 seconds ahead of the Oconer-paced Go for Gold first team.