MANILA, Philippines – Overall leader Ronald Oranza of Philippine Navy-Standard Insurance intends to use the next couple of days to study the mountain passes of three of the last four stage of the Ronda Pilipinas 2018.
The 25-year-old Oranza has built a healthy lead after eight stages, with an aggregate clocking of 21 hours, one minute, and 56 seconds.
He is about seven minutes ahead of Navy teammate Jan Paul Morales (21:08:51) and Go for Gold Developmental Team’s Jay Lampawog (21:19:31).
Rounding up the top 10 were 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).
However, Oranza knows he cannot be complacent as his lead can vanish if he’s not careful.
“I have to really race smart and be extra cautious to avoid accidents or mechanical problems,” said Oranza.
This early, Oranza and his team are already in Silang, Cavite where Stage 9 will kick off on Thursday.
“I want to familiarize myself with these ascents,” the rider explained.
The next three stages will be riddled with mountain passes: the 207.2-km Silang-Tagaytay Stage Nine on Thursday; 147.8-km Tagaytay-Calaca Stage 10 on Friday; and the 92.72-km Calaca-Calaca Stage 11 on Saturday.
The race will conclude with the Stage 12 criterium in Filinvest, Alabang on Sunday.
Oranza is close to claiming his first-ever Ronda Pilipinas crown after a pair of second-place finishes in 2013 and 2016.
If he wins, he will pocket the top purse worth P1 million, and join an elite club consisting of Morales, Irish Valenzuela, two-time winner Santy Barnachea, Mark Galedo, and Reimon Lapaza.
“That is my dream, to become Ronda champion,” said Oranza. “But I have to finish the race first before I think of anything else.”
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.