by Jerome Lagunzad
TUGUEGARAO CITY — One by one, Navy-Standard Insurance is taking its top rivals in the 2018 Ronda Pilipinas presented by LBC out of the equation.
The fancied Navymen, bannered by LBC Red Jersey holder Ronald Oranza and back-to-back champion Jan Paul Morales, executed their gameplan in Stage 3 under the hot and humid conditions on Monday.
Oranza, 25, took it upon himself to put some pressure on Go for Gold Elite Team skipper George Oconer early on while Morales, 32, kept the pace up with the lead group as the Navymen started to take full control with nine more stages left.
“Naging successful ‘yung game plan namin ngayon,” beamed Oranza, who finished the brutal 225.5km trek from Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte up to the Cagayan Provincial Capitol here in five hours, 40 minutes and 43 seconds, good enough for 13th place.
However, the pride of Villasis, Pangasinan maintained his comfortable lead in the individual rankings with an accumulated time of 10 hours, 25 minutes and 39 seconds, exactly five minutes ahead of fellow Navyman Archie Cardaña.
Morales also redeemed himself from a so-so performance in Stage 2 as he finished Stage 3 at fifth overall in five hours, 39 minutes and 51 seconds, just six seconds behind lap winner, Team Army-Bicycology skipper Cris Joven.
Morales, seeking to complete an unprecedented ‘three-peat’ in the county’s biggest cycling race, also moved up from ninth to third overall in the overall rankings with an aggregate clocking of 10:31:01.