SUBIC BAY—Defending champion Jan Paul Morales of Navy-Standard Insurance took his second lap victory as he topped the 137-km Stage 3 in the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2017 that started in Angeles City, Pampanga and ended in front of the Harbour Square here.
Morales, 31, showed an impressive mix of sprint and climbing skills as he dominated the stage in three hours, 25 minutes and 46 seconds, less than three minutes of a three-man chase pack of Ilocos Sur’s Jemico Brioso, RC Cola NCR’s Leonel Dimaano and Kinetix Lab-Army’s Cris Joven.
Brioso, Dimaano and Joven wound up second to fourth spots, respectively, with identical times of 3:28:32.
The recent performance catapulted Morales, who is seeking to become the first back-to-back champion of this annual event considered the biggest cycling race in the country, from 16th the day before to third overall with an aggregate time of 8:33:44.
Rudy Roque, wearer of the LBC red jersey symbolic of the overall lead, and No. 2 Ronald Lomotos also of Navy, got stuck inside the peloton that checked in at seventh to 40th places with identical times of 3:29:07.
Roque kept the lead with a total clocking of 8:32:10, but his once mighty five-minute lead was chopped to just a little over one and half minute by Morales.
Lomotos retained his grip at No. 2 and was 20 seconds off the pace with a time of 8:32:30.
It was Morales’ second straight stage triumph after he reigned supreme in the Stage 3 criterium in Vigan, Ilocos Sur Sunday.
Morales said he was just determined to get the stage victory to close in on the leaders.
“I’m just focused on winning this stage and made my move when I got the opportunity,” said Morales, a native of Calumpang, Marikina City, in Filipino.
Morales made the move approaching the mountains of Morong, Bataan where the idle Nuclear Power Plant is located, kept his pace by his lonesome despite the strong winds and never looked back from there.
He later said it helped him that he trained on this very same route for a couple of months late last year.
“I trained here last November, I’m familiar with the route,” said Morales.
Interestingly, Morales also topped the KOM (King of the Mountain) lap in Morong to gain some extra time bonuses.
Go for Gold’s rookie bet Jonel Carcueva, who made it here via the Bacolod City qualifying race last December, and Kinetix Lab-Army’s Alvin Benosa wound up at joint fifth in 3:29:01, a six-second gap ahead of the big group that included Roque and Lomotos.
Roque said he will do his best to bounce back in the Stage Four, a 111-km road race starting and ending here in Subic.
“I was heavily guarded but I will try to make a move in Stage Four tomorrow (today),” said Roquie, a proud son of Tibo, Bataan whose best finish here was ninth in Ronda’s inaugural edition six years ago.
Go for Gold’s Ismael Grospe, Jr. retained his No. 4 spot in 8:34:38 whiole Carcueva is moved up to No. 5 overall in 8:36:01.
Rounding up the top 10 were Navy’s Jay Lampawog (8:36:03), Ilocos Sur’s Ryan Serapio (8:36:04), Mindanao-Sultan Kudarat’s Roel Quitoy (8:36:08) and Kinetix Lab-Army’s Alvin Benosa (8:36:09) and Reynaldo Navarro (8:36:15).
This race, the biggest in the country today, is staking P1 million to the champion courtesy of presentor LBC and in partnership with MVP Sports Foundation, Petron, Mitsubishi, Versa.ph, Partas, Maynilad, Standard Insurance, CCN, Bike Xtreme, NLEX, PhilCycling and 3Q Sports Event Management.
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