VIGAN, Ilocos Sur--Defending champion Jan Paul Morales of Navy-Standard Insurance made his move by ruling the Stage 2 criterium even as teammate Rudy Roque wound up second to retain the overall individual lead Sunday in the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2017 at the City Hall here.
Slowed down by his chief rivals in the 158-kilometer, Vigan-Laoag-Vigan Stage 1 the day before, Morales, 31, made his move and towed a six-man group to rule the leg with identical clockings of an hour, 11 minutes and 44 seconds and get himself into the thick of things.
“The plan was for all of us to stay in front and we executed it well,” said Morales, a native of Calumpang, Marikina as he emerged the 2015 Asian Cycling Championship silver medallist.
Ending up behind Morales and Roque were Kinetix Lab Army’s Cris Joven, Bike Extrme’s Jaybop Pagnanawon, Mindanao Sultan Kudarat’s Roel Quitoy and Kinetix Lab Army’s Ronnilan Quita.
Rounding up the Top 10 in the stage were Stage 1 winner Ronald Lomotos of Navy, Go for Gold’s Ronnel Hualda, RC Cola NCR’s Jervin Torres and Leonel Dimaano with times of 1:11:49, 1:11:53, 1:11:54 and 1:11:54, respectively.
Morales’ effort pushed him from 23rd the day before to 17th with a total clocking of 5:08:11, or a little over five minutes off the pace in this annual race 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.
The 25-year-old Roque, who was discovered by former Tour king Renato Doloso years back, was part of that pack but he checked in at second to keep the LBC red jersey, symbolic of the overall lead.
It was the Tibo, Bataan native’s second straight runner-up effort after he also placed No. 2 behind opening stage winner Ronald Lomotos of Navy.
With another impressive effort, Roque kept his stranglehold of the top spot with an aggregate clocking of 5:03:03, 20 seconds ahead of closest pursuer Lomotos, who finished seventh in the stage.
Another Navyman Archie Cardana, a 21-year-old rider seeing action for the first time, was at No. 3 with a time of 5:03:44, while Go for Gold’s Ismael Grospe, Jr. stayed at No. 4 in 5:05:31.
Pagnanawon, who is eyeing to win the country’s biggest cycling race and make his father, 1986 Tour champion Rolando, proud, leapt from No. 7 to No. 5 with 5:06:44 while Jay Lampawog, another young turk from Navy, is at No. 6 with 5:06:56.
Completing the top 10 cast were Ilocos Sur’s Ryan Serapio (5:06:57), Go for Gold’s Jonel Carcueva (5:07:00), Quitoy (5:07:01) and Go for Gold’s Orlie Villanueva (5:07:07).
Navy continued to dominate the team race with a total time of 20:17:32, a whopping nine minutes ahead of Go for Gold’s 20:26:49 and Kinetix Lab Army’s 20:30:49.
The race takes a break today and will resume Wednesday with the 137-km Angeles-Subic (via Bataan) Stage Three followed by the 111-km Subic-to-Subic Stage Four the following day.
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