Oranza, Morales, Navy seek to keep Ronda lead
ECHAGUE, Isabela—Ronald Oranza, Jan Paul Morales and the confident Navy-Standard Insurance will try to keep their stranglehold of the lead in the individual and team races as Ronda Pilipinas 2018 presented by LBC resumes Thursday with the 179.4-kilometer Stage Five starting in Echague, Isabela, and ending in San Jose, Nueva Ecija.
The 26-year-old Oranza seized the overall lead after topping the first two stages—the first a Vigan criterium and the second a Vigan-Pagudpud lap—and has never looked back since, posting a total time of 13 hours and 33.21 minutes after four stages.
“I will just need to race smart for me to keep this red jersey,” said Oranza, of Villasis, Pangasinan, in Filipino.
Another Navy bet, defending back-to-back champion Morales, should be in hot pursuit as he is currently at No. 2 with 13:38:22, or five minutes and a second off the pace.
The Calumpang, Marikina City-based Morales is also riding the crest of his Tuguegarao-Isabela Stage Four triumph and should come into the stage in high spirits 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 Sports, Lightwater, LBC Foundation and PhilCycling.
Morales, who is eyeing a third straight crown, said he is more concerned in helping Navy win both the individual and team titles.