Window getting smaller for Navy rivals
ANGELES CITY—Navy-Standard Insurance has been riding as one cohesive unit long before the demanding routes of the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2017 had been laid out.
And team captain Lloyd Lucien Reynante thinks that it would take time before the 11 other teams and their riders can catch up.
“We’ve trained together for a long time while other teams have only formed theirs shortly before the Ronda,” Reynante, the Standard Insurance chief strategist and the most veteran rider in the field, said in Filipino.
Navy controlled the first two stages in Ilocos Sur with Rudy Roque, Ronald Lomotos and rookie Archie Cardana immediately seizing the edge in the individual overall contest.
If Navy’s rivals want to gain headway at all, the next three stages will be their only window.
Wednesday’s 137-kilometer course is a ride on the hilly Bataan National Park in the towns of Bagac and Morong. Halfway through the route is the first climbing stage of the 14-leg bikathon.
Another chance for the other contenders opens up in the fourth stage on Thursday’s Subic to Subic race (111 km) practically on the same uphill road in Stage 3.
The fifth stage on Sunday will be their final break—a long and dragging 251 km trip from Lucena City to Pili, Camarines Sur.
“If we can keep the individual and team overall leaderships after these three stages, we have a big chance to repeat as champions,” said Roque, who leads teammate Ronald Lomotos by 20 seconds in the overall GC.
Navy-Standard Insurance, a perennial title contender in the Ronda, easily won the race last year with Jan Paul Morales prevailing in two of the three legs and fellow Navyman Ronald Oranza taking the other.
“Anybody from our team can win the [overall individual title],” said Reynante. “We will support whoever is in front from among our riders.”