Navy’s Morales rules Stage 3 of Ronda

Joey Villar - Philstar.com

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Navy-Standard Insurance's Jan Paul Morales topped the 2.40-kilometer Stage Three criterium on Tuesday to fortify his grip of the overall lead in the Mindanao Leg of the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2016 at the Pueblo de Oro grounds here.

Unlike in Stage Two in Butuan, the 31-year-old Morales didn't encounter problems and took stage honors by outsprinting the field headed by Navy teammate and Butuan City's Stages One and Two winner Ronald Oranza and clocking an hour, nine minutes and 23.64 seconds.

It was a big contrast to Morales' performance the previous stage when he suffered bruises to his right shoulder and thigh form a crash caused by the collision of his and Oranza's bikes in one of the turns.

"We talked about safety the day before because we don't want it to happen again and I'm happy we had a less difficult ride," said Morales, a native of Calumpang, Marikina, in Filipino.

It was Morales' first stage win here after he finished second to Oranza in the previous two stages.

"It feels good to finally win a stage," he said.

Fellow Navymen Daniel Ven Carino and Rudy Roque finished second and third in 1:09:23.65 and 1:09:24.03 while Oranza checked in at fourth in 1:09:24.47 after reigning supreme in the first two stages.

Navy skipper Lloyd Lucien Reynante wound up at No. 5 in the stage in 1:09:24.67.

Arnold Marco and Ronnilon Quita of Team LBC and MVP Sports Foundation, bared some fangs and ended up at Nos. 6 and 8 with clockings of 1:09:24.92 and 1:09:25.89, respectively, while Mindanao's James Paolo Ferfas of Team LCC-Lutayan finished at No. 10 in 1:09:27.07.

Navymen El Joshua Carino and Joel Calderon were at Nos. 7 and 9 in 1:09:25.87 and 1:09:27.07.

The stage triumph further solidified Morales' grip of the overall lead as he has now accumulated 39 points, a massive 10-point lead ahead of the pack.

And Morales knows he's getting closer to victory.

"If could just avoid accidents and mechanical problems, I think I can win this Mindanao Leg," said Morales.

Reynante liked what he saw.

"We talked before this stage and I'm happy with the result," he said.

One of the few changes that happened in the leaderboard was the battle for No. 2 between Reynante and Oranza with the former currently gaining 29 points, just two ahead of the latter with 27.

The younger Carino and Roque were at Nos. 4 and 5 with 25 points apiece.

Rounding up the top 10 in the overall race were Calderon (14), Navy's John Mark Camingao (11), the elder Carino (9), Marco (7) and Ferfas (6).

Camingao though was beaten by Ferfas in this stage in the MVPSF Local Leader race and closed the gap as he now has six to the former's 11.

The race, which is presented by LBC and LBC Express, sanctioned by PhilCycling and sponsored by Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation, Petron and Versa Radio-Tech 1 Corp. with Maynilad and NLEX as minor sponsors, will take another one-day break Wednesday.

It will resume on Thursday with a 21.7-km Stage Four Individual Time Trial scenic Manolo Fortich before closing out with a 158.32-km Stage Five in Malaybalay, Bukidnon.

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