STA. ROSA, Laguna—Navy-Standard Insurance’s Jan Paul Morales displayed the same form that won him the Mindanao Leg and topped Stage One of the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2016’s Luzon Leg at the Paseo de Sta. Rosa grounds here in Laguna yesterday.
Re-energized after two-week break, Morales, 30, showed great form and conitioning and handily took opening stage victory in one hour, eight minutes and 5.37 seconds to set in motion his bid of seizing another leg.
“I prepared hard for this because I was a little bit tired in the Visayas,” said Morales, who managed just a sixth place finish in the Visayas Leg last month after getting spent by his Mindanao Leg triumph.
It was an impressive performance for Morales, who won it by almost a minute and a half ahead of LBC-MVP Sports Foundation’s George Oconer and another Navy bet Rudy Roque, who checked in second and third in 1:09:30.30 and 1:09:33.19, respectively.
“I was just focused on winning,” said Morales.
The lap win was Morales’ third this year after he also ruled Stagees Three and Four of the Mindanao Leg in Cagayan de Oro and Manolo Fortich two months ago.
And it looked like Morales is on his way to another leg triumph.
“I’m in good condition to win again,” said Morales.
Vowing a better effort after a disappointing 11th place finish in the Visayas, Oconer delivered on his promise and beat Morales and Roque for the stage win.
Five other LBC-MVPSF riders also made it into the top 10 including Rustom Lim, who ended up at No. 4 in 1:09:38.74.
LBC-MVPSF’s Ronald Lomotos was at No. 6, Julius Mark Bonzo at No. 7, Jerry Aquino, Jr. at No. 9 and Ronnilan Quita at No. 10 with clockings of 1:09:51.78, 1:10:06.09, 1:10:08.82 and 1:10:08.86.
El Joshua Carino (1:09:40.00), and 2009n Tour king Joel Calderon (1:10:07.64) were the other Navymen in the Stage One top 10.
Oconer later said he was just tired of losing.
“I’m determined to make up for my performance last time,” said Oconer, last year’s runner up.
Ronnel Hualda, who is representing Team Light Science, was at No. 11 in 1:10:09.43 while Visayas Leg titlist Ronald Oranza of Navy managed just a 12th place finish with a time of 1:10:09.67.
Morales gained 15 points for his win while Oconer and Roque 13 and 11 classification points.
Rounding up the top 10 in the overall standings were Lim (9), Carino (7), Lomotos (6), Bonzo (5), Calderon (4), Aquino (3) and Quita (2).
Expect another battle between Navy and LBC-MVPSF when the race resumes today for the Individual Time Trial Stage Three that starts in Talisay City, Batanghas and ends in Tagaytay City.
Antipolo City will host Stage Three with a criterium on April 6 before LBC Ronda closes with a Stage Four road race from Dagupan City, Pangasinan to Baguio on April 8 and another criterium on Baguio on April 9.
The event, organized by LBC Express, is sanctioned by PhilCycling and sponsored by Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation, Petron and Versa Radio-Tech 1 Corp. with Maynilad and NLEX as minor sponsors.