Roque, Navy retain overall lead; Morales rules Stage 2
VIGAN, Ilocos Sur—After two high-velocity races on flat roadways, Rudy Roque of Navy-Standard Insurance is bracing for the real challenge in the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2017.
“Hopefully, I could hold on to the lead in the next two stages,” said Roque after keeping the red jersey, Ronda’s symbol of overall leadership.
Jan Paul Morales, a heavy favorite who also rides for Navy, ruled Sunday’s second stage held mostly on the famed cobblestone streets of this town.
Roque placed second in the 50-kilometer criterium race after checking in with the same clocking as Morales—one hour, 11 minutes and 44 seconds—to retain the general classification lead.
Cris Joven of Kinetix Lab-Philippine Army came in third along with Jaybop Pagnanawon of Bike Extreme, Roel Quitoy of Team Mindanao and Army’s Ronnilan Quita, also in 1:11:44.
“The course was rough and we tried our best to avoid a crash,” said Morales, who ruled two of three legs of the Ronda last year. “My teammates and I made sure that we stay in front throughout the race.”
Roque and the Navymen will be looking to protect their advantage both in the team and individual GC on Wednesday.
The 14-stage cycling Tour takes a two-day respite before negotiating a punishing terrain on the hilly Bataan National Park in Stage 3 (137 kilometers).
“This will be our first big test,” said Roque, a national team track rider from Bataan.
Overall, the 25-year-old Roque leads teammate and Stage 1 winner Ronald Lomotos by 20 seconds in the race supported by MVP Sports Foundation.
Fellow Navyman Archie Cardana remained third (41 seconds behind), Ismael Grospe Jr. of Go For Gold lay fourth (2:28) and Pagnanawon stayed in fifth spot (3:41).
Navy Standard Insurance is well ahead in the team GC with a 9:17 gap over Go For Gold while Kinetix Lab-Philippine Army is 13:17 back.
The cyclists went through the torturous one-kilometer stretch on the cobblestones of Calle Crisologo several times in the 2.7 km route, inspired by the “Hell of the North,” a gruelling stage in the Tour de France from Paris to Roubaix, near the Belgian frontier.