By Jerome Lagunzad
Arguably the biggest surprise this year, Go for Gold Developmental Team’s Jay Lampawog is determined to give it his all as he tries to come up with a strong finish in the last four stages of the 2018 Ronda Pilipinas presented by LBC.
Up against grizzled counterparts, the 6-foot Lampawog, 20, has surpassed expectations as he put himself in the Top 3 behind LBC Red Jersey holder Ronald Oranza and reigning back-to-back champion Jan Paul Morales of Navy-Standard Insurance at the end of the first eight stages up North.
Even if he’s more than 17 minutes off the pace with a total time of 21 hours, 19 minutes and 31 seconds in the overall individual rankings, the Villasis, Pangasinan native is raring to keep his stranglehold of the MVP Sports Foundation Yellow Jersey, given to the best young rider under 23 years old.
“I feel I’m in a dream,” said Lampawog, who’s been considered by many as the future of Philippine cycling. “I couldn’t believe that I’m up there with the best of Philippine cycling. My goal now is to finish strong and get myself confidence going home.”
Lampawog has indeed stolen the thunder from former Ronda champions like Santy Barnachea of Team Franzia and Irish Valenzuela of CCN Superteam as well as other perennial contenders like national team mainstay George Oconer of Go for Gold’s main team, Army-Bicycology Shop skipper Cris Joven and last year’s runner-up Rudy Roque of Navy.
Behind Lampawog’s sustained charge, Go for Gold Developmental Team has also been making noise in the overall team rankings with an aggregate clocking of 82:52:24, behind only the unstoppable Navymen (82:19:52) and ahead of third-running Army-Bicycology (83:10:47).
Go for Gold Developmental Team coach Eds Hualda admitted she wasn’t surprised at all to see Lampawog finally living up to his potential in the country’s biggest race supported by MVP Sports Foundation, Filinvest, Philippine Rabbit, CCN, Petron, Versa.ph, 3Q Sports Event Management, Inc., Boy Kanin, Franzia, Standard Insurance, Bike Xtreme, SH+, Guerciotti, Prolite, Green Planet, Maynilad, NLEX Sports, Lightwater, LBC Foundation and PhilCycling.