Resurgent Morales tops criterium
STA. ROSA, Laguna—Fagged out from the previous race, a rejuvenated Jan Paul Morales showed up with his best form yet Sunday to top the first stage of the 2016 LBC Ronda Pilipinas Luzon leg.
The wily sprint specialist from Philippine Navy-Standard Insurance broke away early and sustained his pace to rule the Stage 1 criterium race at Paseo de Sta. Rosa here.
Morales, who won the general classification title in the Mindanao leg last month, finished more than a minute ahead of his closest rivals in 1 hour, 8 minutes and 5.37 seconds.
George Oconer of LBC-MVP Sports Foundation and Navy’s Rudy Roque cut loose from the peloton early along with Morales but failed to challenge the stage winner in the final two laps of the 2.38-kilometer course where riders raced for one hour plus a pair of laps.
“I was tired in the Visayas after winning in Mindanao, but I came here well-rested,” said Morales after his third stage victory of the year.
Oconer, last year’s Ronda runner-up, checked in one minute and 24 seconds off Morales while Roque finished third, 1:27 back.
LBC riders, meanwhile, were poised to upstage the Navymen in the five-stage race.
Besides Oconer, five other LBC cyclists finished in the top 10 with Rustom Lim claiming fourth (1:32 off), going into the second stage Monday from Talisay, Batangas, to Tagaytay City.