Ronda Pilipinas: Morales edges Hualda, rules Stage 9
— Marc Anthony Reyes (@marcreyesINQ) February 19, 2017ADVERTISEMENT
STA ROSA, Laguna — Defending champion Jan Paul Morales engaged in a furious bike-off with Ronnel Hualda before darting to the finish ahead to rule the 9th Stage of Ronda Pilipinas Sunday here.
Morales, 31, finished the 50-kilometer criterium around the Paseo de Santa Rosa in one hour, five minutes and 58 seconds, a bike length faster than Hualda of Go For Gold.
It was Morales’ fourth stage victory which enabled him to fortify his lead in the overall classification over his Philippine Navy-Standard Insurance teammates Rudy Roque and Ronald Lomotos.
Morales and Hualda were taking turns in two-man lead pack five laps left in the race before the Calumpang, Marikina native made his move in the final 200 meters.
Morales had also won Stages 2, 3, 6 in the 14-stage race in a quest to become the first rider to have back-to-back titles.
“Now we are thinking of the Iloilo stages,” said Morales who turned out be the Navy’s main man and not Roque who is now trailing him overall by two minutes and 37 seconds.
The overall standings didn’t change as chasers Jonel Carcueva of Go for Gold and Cris Joven of Kinetix Lab-Army — fourth and fifth placers, respectively — could not make a decisive move in the short and flat stage that hardly broke the peloton.
Navy captain Lloyd Lucien Reynante finished third (28 seconds behind Morales and Hualda) bunched with Navy riders Roque and Archie Cardana, Go For Gold’s Orlie Villanueva, Lomotos, Navy’s Daniel Ven Carino and Lomotos, Bike Extreme’s Jaybop Pagnanawon and Joven, in that order.
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