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Oranza braces for Ronda’s killer lap

By Jerome Lagunzad

Team Philippine Navy Standard Insurance's Ronald Oranza (MB photo | Camille Ante)

Team Philippine Navy Standard Insurance’s Ronald Oranza (MB photo | Camille Ante)

If he could only have his way, Navy-Standard Insurance star Ronald Oranza would rather not have a three-day respite in the 2018 Ronda Pilipinas presented by LBC before racing back to action on Thursday.

After all, the Villasis, Pangasinan native has all the needed momentum and confidence while holding the coveted LBC Red Jersey for quite sometime following a sustained impressive performance in the first eight stages up North.

“Mas gusto ko, tuluy-tuloy na sana. Ang hirap kasi maghintay,” said Oranza, 25, in a recent interview, sounding confident of his sharp form that enabled him to win three laps so far while posting an aggregate time of 21 hours, one minute and 56 seconds.

“Parang pagtapos ng rest day (yesterday), panibagong pahinga na naman. ‘Yung katawan mo napahinga na. Tapos magsisimula ulit sa mahirap kasi ‘yung start mabigat.”

Oranza is certainly bracing himself for what he considers as the “killer lap” – and arguably the most decisive – leg of the country’s biggest race this year, the daunting 207.2-kilometer Stage 9 trek from Silang, Cavite to Batangas up to Tagaytay City.

“‘Yun talaga ang killer lap, kasi marami pang ahon,” he stressed. “Kung maitatawid ‘yun, kaya na ‘yung mga susunod na ruta.”

Back-to-back champion Jan Paul Morales, who’s running a distant second with a six-minute, 55-second deficit off the pace, admitted that Oranza has virtually secured the most coveted individual award.

Same thing in the overall team rankings, with the Navymen accumulating a total time of 82 hours, 19 minutes and 52 seconds, at least more than half an hour ahead of Go for Gold Developmental Team and more than 50 minutes ahead of Army-Bicycology.

But that doesn’t mean the Navymen are already satisfied with their showing. “Pipilitin namin makuha ‘yung third overall (in the individual rankings),” Morales said, aware that three other teammates, despite the disqualification of Ronald Lomotos in the Stage 7 Individual Time Trial, are still in the Top 10.

Jhon Mark Camingao, despite dealing with a bum stomach in last Sunday’s Stage 8 Team Time Trial that ended at the Monasterio de Tarlac, is at fifth with an accumulated clocking of 21:20:34.

Rudy Roque, last year’s runner-up, is at eighth spot with a time of 21:21:42 while climbing specialist Junrey Navara is at 10th with 21:22:08.

That should be enough to keep Jay Lampawog of Go for Gold Developmental Team, at third spot with 21:19:31, and Army-Bicycology skipper Cris Joven, at fourth with 21:20:02, wary for the rest of the 12-stage race.