Navy rider a sure champion as team shows no mercy vs chasers
ANTIPOLO CITY—As far as Philippine Navy-Standard Insurance is concerned, all that matters is one of its riders claims the LBC Ronda Pilipinas overall crown.
And with its two top guns still pacing the field after Tuesday, it looks like one of them will go home with the P1 million cash prize—and neither Jan Paul Morales or Rudy Roque are sweating over who gets it.
Morales, 31, said he is not worried if Roque makes a run for the red jersey. And Roque, who took the 11th stage from Calamba to here, said he has no plans of reclaiming the symbol of overall leadership either.
“I don’t know, maybe not,” said Roque, who finished the 140-kilometer stage in three hours, 57 minutes and 39 seconds, when asked if he will try to reclaim the overall lead. “He’s my teammate after all.”
Morales finished second, towing along Go For Gold’s Ronnel Hualdo, 2:04 behind the stage winner.
But Navy practically secured the title between its top two riders as third-running Cris Joven of Kinetix Lab-Army slid farther, 11:07 off Morales.
“If they can still can [catch up], I can do even better,” said Morales, who will be clutching that lead when the race resumes in Iloilo on March 2.
Morales said the stage win was important because their superiors in the Navy watched the finish just in front of Hinulugang Taktak National Park here.
“Our battle plan was to show no mercy,” he said.
Roque, who held the red jersey in the past seven stages, closed in on Morales in the overall race, inching to within two minutes and 15 seconds.