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Navy tops Ronda’s TTT

Led by Ronald Oranza (back) and reigning champion Jan Paul Morales (2nd to the last), Navy easily ruled Ronda’s Team Time Trial yesterday in Tarlac City. (MB photo | Camille Ante)

Led by Ronald Oranza (back) and reigning champion Jan Paul Morales (2nd to the last), Navy easily ruled Ronda’s Team Time Trial yesterday in Tarlac City. (MB photo | Camille Ante)

By Jerome Lagunzad

TARLAC CITY – Just a cut above the rest.

Team Navy-Standard Insurance showed no signs of slowing down on Sunday, ruling the 42.1-kilometer Stage 8 Team Time Trial that started in the Tarlac Provincial Capitol and ended at the sprawling Tarlac Recreational Park in dominant fashion.

Anchored by LBC Red Jersey holder Ronald Oranza, reigning back-to-back titleholder Jan Paul Morales, climbing specialist Junrey Navara and Archie Cardaña, the Navymen showed the gulf in class once again as they chased down their rivals like a hungry pack of wolves, clocking in at 56 minutes and 17 seconds.

Go for Gold Developmental Team, bannered by third-running Jay Lampawog, came in second overall, two minutes and 54 seconds off the Navymen, while the Team Amrmy-Bicycology checked in third, three minutes and 53 seconds behind.

Behind another big-time collective performance, the Navymen further widened the gap in the overall team rankings with an accumulated time of 82 hours, 19 minutes and 52 seconds, giving them enough cushion ahead of the three-day respite.

Morales, 32, however, admitted it wasn’t as easy ride as their clocking suggests. “Nag-struggle kami nu’ng simula kasi maraming kumalas sa amin,” he said, adding that Jhon Mark Camingao was dealing with a bum stomach and El Joshua Cariño, the Stage 5 winner, struggling to keep himself with the fast-paced tempo.

Even Rudy Roque, who settled for a bridesmaid finish last year, also had a tough grind, forcing Cardaña to stay hot on the heels of his touted teammates and give his all in the last five kilometers.

Despite their comfortable lead, Morales admitted there won’t be any rest for the Navymen going to the last four stages which will feature several mountain climbing challenges, starting with the daunting 207.2km Stage 9 from Silang, Cavite up to Tagaytay City on Thursday.

“Dederetso na kami sa Naic (Cavite). Wala munang uuwi. Sakripisyo na lang muna,” added the current Sprint King and KOM jerseys holder, who is still six minutes and 55 seconds behind Oranza who has an aggregate clocking of 21:01:56 so far.

Lampawog, 20, the MVP Yellow Jersey holder for the best young rider under 23, remains at third spot with 21:19:31, followed by Army skipper Cris Joven at fourth with 21:20:02 and Camingao at fifth 21:20:34.

Rounding up the Top 10 are Rounding up the Top 10 are Go for Gold Elite Team skipper George Oconer (at sixth with 21:20:51, Ronnel Hualda of Go for Gold Developmental Team (seventh, 21:21:29), Roque (eighth, 21:21:42), CCN Super team skipper Irish Valenzuela (ninth, 21:22:04) and Navara (10th, 21:22:08).

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