By JEROME LAGUNZAD
CALACA, Batangas. — Navy-Standard Insurance’s Junrey Navara ruled the out-and-back 92.72km Stage 11 Saturday to move up to third spot in with one more stage to go in the 2018 Ronda Pilipinas presented by LBC.
Picking up from where he left off following an impressive Stage 10 victory last Friday, the General Santos City pride turned up the heat in the first 10 kilometers then negotiated four King of the Mountain challenges with relative ease.
He raised his right arm in jubilation as he crossed the finish line in front of the municipal hall in 2 hours, 28 minutes and 13 seconds.
As a result, Navara overtook Go for Gold Elite Team skipper George Oconer for third overall third spot with an aggregate clocking of 33:04:37.
“Kailangan talaga kumain ng malaking oras dahil hinahabol namin ‘yung third spot,” he said while being mobbed by his new supporters. “Paborito ko lang talaga ‘yung climb. Specialty ko ang ahon kasi dun talaga nagkakaiwanan ang mga siklista.”
Navara’s fellow Navyman, LBC Red Jersey holder Ronald Oranza, checked in two seconds off the pace for his eighth podium finish and virtually secured the coveted individual crown with an accumulated time of 32:43:13, more than 11 minutes ahead of back-to-back champion Jan Paul Morales, their team skipper.
“Masaya ako kasi nakuha ko na ‘yung minimithi kong kampeonato sa taon na ‘to,” said the Villasis, Pangasinan native who is looking forward to Stage 12, a 50km criterium race around Filinvest, Alabang on Sunday.
Morales, 32, will settle for a bridesmaid finish this time but is already assured of the Sprint King title with 104 points, 25 points ahead of Oranza.
Meanwhile, Navara has virtually bagged the KOM crown for a record fourth time with 48 points, twice the points earned by his closest pursuer in Morales.
Go for Gold Developmental Team’s Jay Lampawog sustained his hold of the MVP Sports Foundation Yellow Jersey as the best young rider under 23 years old with an accumulated time of 33:19:48, more than 16 minutes ahead of Team Franzia’s Mervin Corpuz.
In the team rankings, the Navymen, as expected, continued to show the way with a total clocking of 129:20:35, away ahead of Army-Bicycology Shop (131:03:19) and Go for Gold Developmental Team (131:06:26).
Meanwhile, Oconer slipped down to fourth spot in the individual rankings with an aggregate time of 33:10:00, followed by another Navyman in Jhon Mark Camingao who has 33:10:53.
Rounding up the Top 10 are Army-Bicycology Shop skipper Cris Joven (33:13:06), Go for Gold Elite Team’s Boots Ryan Cayubit (33:15:35), Navy’s El Joshua Cariño (33:17:05), Lampawog and Navy’s Rudy Roque (33:21:37).