Ryan Tugawin of Excellent Noodles topped Stage Seven to storm back to the top 10 even as Ronald Oranza of Navy Standard Insurance fended off his closest rivals to keep his grip of the overall lead in the 11th LBC Ronda Pilipinas, Thursday in Baler, Aurora.
Tugawin, 32, flashed his impressive climbing skills in the mountains of Aurora to rule the 174.5-kilometer stage, which started in front of the Tarlac Provincial Capitol and ended at the Quezon Park here where he was met with loud cheers from the crowd, in four hours, 31 minutes and 16 seconds.
El Joshua Carino of Navy Standard Insurance ended up second with the same clocking while Marcelo Felipe of Team Nueva Ecija was third in 4:31:18 also catapulted them straight to the top 10.
It was the second podium finish for the Solano, Nueva Vizcaya native after he finished third in the Sorsogon-Legazpi Stage Three Saturday.
The recent feat was also Tugawin’s second stage victory since topping the Sorsogon-Legazpi Stage Two in Ronda’s 10th-anniversary edition two years ago.
“I’m happy to win a stage again,” said Tugawin.
For their efforts, all three of them earned a spot in the top 10 with Felipe climbing to No. 5 from No. 11 in 23:28:09, Carino zooming to No. 6 from No. 12 in 23:29:28 and Tugawin leapfrogging to No. 8 from No. 13 in 23:31:29.
Oranza stuck with closest foes Jan Paul Morales of Excellent Noodles and Jonel Carcueva of Go for Gold that checked in at fourth in 4:32:18 to remain atop the individual general classification race with an aggregate time of 23:18:22.
Morales stayed second in 23:19:04 while Carcueva third in 23:21:19.
The 2018 Ronda king will wear the red LBC jersey on Friday’s 174.4km Baler-Echague, Isabela Stage Eight and there is a chance the big guns will try to stick to each other like leeches.
“I expect the three of us to guard each other to close out the next stage,” said the 29-year-old proud son of Villasis, Pangasinan.
Rounding up the top 10 were Ronald Lomots of Standard Insurance at No. 4 in 23:27:22, Jeremy Lizard of Navy Standard Insurance at No. 7 in 23:29:39, Jericho Jay Lucero and Daniel Ven Carino of Go for Gold at Nos. 9 and 10 in 23:32:13 and 23:33:24, respectively.
Navy Standard Insurance remained unflappable in the team race with a clocking of 67:17:49.
Excellent Noodles stayed at No. 2 in 67:31:05 while Go for Gold at No. 3 in 67:43:00.
This annual event stakes a P3.5 million cash pot including P1 million to the champion courtesy of LBC Express, Inc., MVP Sports Foundation, Quad X, Smart, Twin Cycle Gear, Standard Insurance, Print2Go, Elves Bicycles, Elitewheels, Orome, Maynilad, PhilHydro, Garmin, Petron, Boy Kanin, Green Planet Bikeshop, Prolite, Fujiwara, Black Mamba Energy Drink, Lightwater, LBC Foundation, PhilCycling, and the Games and Amusements Board.