Youth riders new force in Ronda

By Joey Villar, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 24 2013 12:54 PM | Updated as of Jan 24 2013 08:54 PM

ALAMINOS, Pangasinan, Philippines – After a sensational effort by its inexperienced but bold riders halfway through the Ronda Pilipinas 2013, PLDT-Spyder has established itself as major force in the bikefest.

After eight grueling stages from Mindanao and Cebu, PLDT-Spyder, a team of under-23 riders, has racked up five podium finishes while putting itself in contention in both the overall, individual and team races against a strong field headed by the country’s best and finest riders.

Ronald Oranza, 20, stood at the forefront of PLDT-Spyder’s campaign with a victory in the Tarlac-Subic Stage Seven and a second place effort in the Pagadian-Iligan Stage Three.

Oranza also finished fourth in the Lapu Lapu-Busay Stage Five behind 19-year-old El Joshua Carino, another PLDT-Spyder bet, current leader Irish Valenzuela and Y101 FM-Cebu’s Marvin Tapic, in what has been considered as the second toughest in the 16-stage race after the Bayombong-Baguio Stage 14.

Rustom Lim and Mark Julius Bonzo also turned in a 1-2 finish in the Olongapo-Alaminos Stage Eight.

These strong finishes helped move Oranza to second overall, just behind Valenzuela, although Carino dropped from a previous No. 2 to No. 6. Still, their collective efforts put PLDT-Spyder just 56 seconds off current team pacesetter LPGMA-American Vinyl.

"The projection was they're supposed to come through and peak after three years," said Ronda Pilipinas 2013 race director Ric Rodriguez. "But look at them now, they’re up there mixing it up with older, more seasoned riders."

Credit PLDT-Spyder's surge to its six-month training and competitions here and abroad under American coach Chris Allison with support from LBC Express, Inc. president Fernando Araneta.

"We have our roles to fill and we do our best to do it," said Mark Bonzo in Filipino.