PAGUDPUD, Ilocos Norte—Ronald Oranza of Navy-Standard Insurance claimed his second lap triumph and watched teammate and reigning back-to-back champion Jan Paul Morales falter under the pressure of the heavy guarding put up by his rivals in the Ronda Pilipinas 2018 presented by LBC.
Riding the crest of his Stage 1 triumph in the Vigan criterium the day before, Oranza, 25, didn’t waste time and went with the breakaway group early before making his move in the final three kms to rule the 155.4km Vigan-Pagudpud Stage 2 in three hours and 34.13 minutes.
It was what Oranza needed to grab the solo lead from Morales of 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, and staking P1 million to the champion.
“It’s too early, but I’m glad to be up there,” said Oranza, a Villasis, Pangasinan native, who is back after skipping last year’s edition to focus on national team duties.
Navy’s Rudy Roque, CCN Superteam’s Sherwin Carrera and Go for Gold’s George Oconer checked in at second, third and fourth, respectively, with the same clocking as Oranza.
Oranza now has an aggregate time of 4:45:14 and will wear the LBC red jersey in today’s 223.5km Pagudpud-Tuguegarao Stage Three, the longest stage in this 12-stage cycling race considered the biggest in the country today.
Oconer, the biggest stumbling block in Morales’ three-peat feat bid, moved from third to second overall with 4:46:02, or just 48 seconds off the pace.
And Oconer is just glad he’s within striking distance.
“If it comes, it comes. I just to need to be smart,” said Oconer, whose best finish was second in 2015 behind Santy Barnachea of Team Franzia.
Carrera is at No. 3 with 4:47:40 while unheralded Joshua Mari Bonifacio of Go for Gold Developmental team zoomed from out of nowhere to No. 5 with 4:47:56.
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, respectively.
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