SILANG, Cavite: Ronald Oranza hopes to come out strong coming off a three-day rest, so do the rest of his pursuers, guaranteeing a spirited battle of power, stamina and mountain-climbing skills in three of the last four stages of Ronda Pilipinas 2018 presented by LBC.
That starts with today’s punishing Stage Nine, a 207.2-km race from Silang Municipal Hall to Tagaytay Convention Centre that will feature four climbs through Kaybiang Tunnel, which serves as the gateway to the western coves of Southern Luzon like the Mt. Palay-Palay mountain, Mt. Pico de Loro and Mt. Marami before concluding with the ascent in Keynes in Talisay, Batangas.
Race director Jingo Hervas himself said the last three stages will make or break one’s title bid.
“Those are ‘killer stages,’” said Hervas.
“It will be a tough stage,” said Oranza. “I just need to be prepared and race smart.”
The next two will be as challenging with the Tagaytay-Calaca Stage 10 tomorrow set over 147.8 kms and the Calaca-Calaca Stage 11 on Saturday slated over 92.72 kms.
Oranza, of Navy-Standard Insurance, has piled up 21 hours, one minute and 56 seconds after eight stages he spiked with victories in Stage One criterium in Vigan, the Vigan-Pagudpud Stage Two and the Stage Seven criterium in Tarlac and a second-place finish in the Nueva Ecija-Tarlac Stage Six.
Navy teammate Jan Paul Morales, the reigning back-to-back titlist, is at No. 2 , around seven minutes behind with 21:08:51 while Jay Lampawog of Go for Gold Developmental team is in third with 21:19:31.
Others pressing their respective drives are 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).
Oranza knows his seven-minute lead could vanish with one mistake especially since the next three stages will be full of ascents.
Other backers of the event are 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 Satge 12 criterium in Filinvest, Alabang on Sunday.