Morales prevails in Ronda 7th stage
— Marc Anthony Reyes (@marcreyesINQ) February 16, 2017
DAET, Camarines Norte — Defending champion Jan Paul Morales of Philippine Navy-Standard Insurance topped the seventh stage of the LBC Ronda Pilipinas before a large crowd at this municipality’s town center Thursday.
Drenched in sweat and mud, Morales timed six hours, nine minutes and four seconds to rule the 227-kilometer leg from Pili, Camarines Sur passing through towns in Quezon and Quirino before arriving here.
His win enabled him to sneak into the top three, two minutes and 50 seconds off teammate and red jersey holder Rudy Roque who crossed the finish line with the same time as Morales.
But Cris Joven of Kinetix Lab-Army chased Morales in the homestretch and was a full bike behind the leg winner. He would climb up the standings from fifth to fourth, just 3:15 away from Roque.
“I’m in top condition,” said Morales, who pulled away with Joven in the first half of the leg in Ragay, Camarines Sur.
It was raining intermittently within the region, making things difficult for the riders who still have seven more stages to conquer.
“I was not thinking of anything, I just went for it,” said Morales who admitted he was riding not exactly to win back-to-back titles but to help somebody from his team to make it.
“The important thing is that the champion should come from our team,” said Morales in Filipino. The Navy still retained 27:07 lead in overall team classification over Go for Gold and 35:35 over the Army.