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Show of force

1-2-3 finish by Navy bets in Ronda

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By Jerome Lagunzad

SAN JOSE CITY, Nueva Ecija – There seems to be no stopping Navy-Standard Insurance’s rampage in the 2018 Ronda Pilipinas presented by LBC. Not even a one-day break.

The irrepressible Navymen picked up from where they left off as promising El Joshua Cariño spearheaded an impressive 1-2-3 finish with his touted teammates at the end of the back-breaking 179.4km Stage 5 trek from Echague, Isabela.

Cariño, 24, showcased his own climbing prowess as he and back-to-back champion Jan Paul Morales set the pace in the first two King of the Mountain challenges in the rain-soaked Diadi, Nueva Vizcaya then never let up on the way to a spectacular windup with LBC Red Jersey holder Ronald Oranza in front of the City Hall here.

“Maganda sabay-sabay (kami sa finish line) para makita nila ‘yung teamwork,” said the Mangaldan, Pangasinan native who even raised his hands together with Morales and Oranza as they crossed the line in four hours, six minutes and 58 seconds.

Go for Gold Developmental Team’s Roel Quitoy and Go for Gold Elite Team skipper George Oconer came in fourth and fifth, respectively, as they apparently lost steam in the last five kilometers when the Navymen turned it up for a blazing finish.

“Tinginan lang,” was how the Navymen executed their strong finishing kick, according to Cariño. “Matagal na kaming magkakasama, halos five years na. Kaya alam na namin ‘yung gagawin.”

Three other Navymen also finished in the Top 10, with Ronald Lomotos coming in at sixth, climbing specialist Junrey Navara at eighth and Archie Cardaña at ninth, underscoring what is fast turning out to be a one-team show.

As a result, Navy-Standard Insurance pulled further away in the team rankings with a collective aggregate time of 70 hours, 54 minutes and 59 seconds, at least more than 29 minutes ahead of second-running Go for Gold Developmental Team and nearly 47 minutes off Philippine Army-Bicycology.

“Tatambak lang kami nang tatambak hanggat makakaya. Kung maiiwan man kami, hindi gaano kalayo,” said Morales, 32, who also regained the CCN Polka Dot Jersey for sweeping all the three KoM challenges, including a Category 3 climb in the dreaded Dalton Pass.

Meanwhile, Oranza, 25, retained his comfortable gap in the individual rankings with an accumulated clocking of 17 hours, 40 minutes and 13 seconds, nearly five minutes ahead of Morales and nearly nine minutes over third-placer Jay Lampawog of Go for Gold Developmental Team.

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