By Jerome Lagunzad
CALACA, Batangas – Already assured of the highest individual award and the team title as well, Navy-Standard Insurance is still determined to bring home all top honors left in the 2018 Ronda Pilipinas presented by LBC.
Climbing specialist Junrey Navarra achieved on Friday what he failed to do the other day as he stamped his class in the rolling 147.8-kilometer long Stage 10 that started at the Tagaytay International Convention Center and ended in front of the Municipal Hall here.
Hardly dwelling on his failed attempt in the brutal 207.2km Stage 9 which he led until the halfway mark, Navara, 26, towed a four-man breakaway in the first 20 kilometers and never let up this time, beating Go for Gold Elite Team’s Boots Ryan Cayubit by two bike-lengths in a mad dash to the finish.
“Pinursigi ko talaga kasi kahapon (Thursday) nagkamali ako. Mahaba rin kasi ‘yung ruta. Kaya ngayon bumawi ako. Sinigurado ko na ‘yung banat kanina,” said the General Santos City native who checked in at three hours, 21 minutes and 47 seconds.
As a result, Navara moved up a rung higher to fifth spot in the overall individual rankings with an aggregate time of 30:36:32 and stayed hot on the heels of Go for Gold Elite Team skipper George Oconer (30:35:18) for a Top 3 finish.
Another Navyman, Jhon Mark Camingao, could still sneak his way in with two more stages remaining as he remained at fourth spot, just 53 seconds behind Oconer.
“Balak talaga namin na kunin ‘yung third (place) kasi ‘yun na lang ang pinaglalabanan,” said Navy-Standard Insurance skipper Jan Paul Morales, the back-to-back champion who stayed nearly seven minutes behind in-form teammate Ronald Oranza, still the LBC Red Jersey holder who has a total clocking of 30:15:03.
“Talagang ang papaunahin namin sina Junrey, lahat ng nasa likod ni Oconer para kami hindi na magtrabaho at relax lang sa likod. Si George na lang magta-trabaho pati ‘yung mga teammates niya.”
Army-Bicycology Shop skipper Cris Joven finished with the Oranza-led main group, exactly four minutes and 15 seconds off the pace, and dropped down to sixth spot with 30:38:24, followed by Cayubit who improved from ninth to seventh with 30:40:46 clocking.
Navyman El Joshua Cariño, the Stage 5 winner, slipped down to eighth spot with 30:42:23 while Go for Gold Developmental Team’s Jay Lampawog dropped ninth with 30:45:06 and Navy’s Rudy Roque remained at 10th with 30:46:55.
In the team rankings, the Navymen has already secured the crown with a total time of 119:16:31, way ahead of Army-Bicycology Shop (120:36:46) and Go for Gold Developmental Team (120:47:27).
Up next for the survivors is the out-and-back 92.72km Stage 11 in this coastal municipality on Saturday, with Navara determined to sustain his late surge.
“May chance pa naman sa Top 3. Kaya bukas magta-trabaho ulit ako. Try lang ng try,” he vowed.