Morales tops Stage 4, but Oranza leads
ECHAGUE, Isabela—Three-peat-seeking Jan Paul Morales of Navy-Standard Insurance bared his fangs and topped the 135.2-kilometer Tuguegarao-Isabela Stage 4, even as Ronald Oranza stayed in control yesterday in the Ronda Pilipinas 2018 presented by LBC.
Morales, 32, bested George Oconer of Go for Gold and Ronnel Hualda of Go for Gold Developmental team and 10 more riders that also included Oranza in a mad dash to the finish to claim the lap victory in three hours and 7.42 minutes.
It was Morales’ second podium finish after he also wound up second in the Vigan Stage 1 criterium Saturday.
Morales also took the overall lead on that day after he also ruled the two intermediate sprint races but went on to give it up after the Vigan-Pagudpud Stage 2 the next day.
But after yesterday, Morales jumped from No. 3 to No. 2 with an aggregate time of 13:38:22, five minutes and a second behind Oranza, who continued to hold sway with 13:33:21.
Morales, however, stressed he doesn’t mind if he doesn’t win it this year.
“Of course, a third title would be nice but I will not mind if Oranza or someone from my team wins it as long as he will be from Navy,” said Morales.
Oranza, a native of Villasis, Pangasinan, said he will do his best to keep the lead 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.
“I will do my best to keep the red jersey,” said Oranza.
Not all was good news for Navy as one of its riders, Archie Cardana, lost his grip on the No. 2 spot and was kicked out of the top 10 after a miserable ride in Stage 4.
In his place was Morales.
Go for Gold Developmental team’s Jay Lampawog moved from No. 5 to No. No. 3 with 13:40:16, while Cris Joven of Army-Bicycology advanced from No. 7 to No. 4 with 13:40:57, while another Navy bet Ronald Lomotos, zoomed from No. 8 to No. 5 with 13:40:57.
CCN Superteam’s Irish Valenzuela, the 2013 champion, finally made his presence felt as he finished with the Morales group that checked in first, catapulting him straight to the top 10 for the first time with a time of 13:41:22, good for No. 6.
Hualda and Navy’s Jhon Mark Camingao, likewise, debuted in the Top 10 as the two jumped to Nos. 7 and 8 with 13:41:34 and 13:42:50, respectively.
Rudy Roque of Navy, who finished second to Morales last year, returned to the top 10 at No, 9 with 13:42:44, just a slot above Team Franzia’s Leonel Dimaano, who slid from No. 4 to No. 10 with 13:43:11.
Thanks to an impressive Stage Four performance, Navy’s 10-minute lead in the team race is now 17 minutes as it now has a total clocking of 54:26:06, ahead of Go for Gold Developmental team with 54:44:01 and Army-Bicycology with 54:55:26.
The race takes a break today and will resume tomorrow with the 179.4-km Stage 5 unfolding at the Echague Municipal Hall and ending at the San Jose City Hall in Nueva Ecija.