Roque out to firm up Ronda tour bid
Joey Villar (The Philippine Star) - February 16, 2017 - 12:00am

PILI, Camarines Sur, Philippines – Rudy Roque steps up his drive for a breakthrough LBC Ronda Pilipinas win as action heats up at the resumption of the individual race from here to Daet and back via Quirino and Quezon provinces today.

The 227-km race is the first of three tough stages crucial to the title contenders bid, particularly Roque, holder of the overall lead with a total time of 18 hours, 12 minutes, 48 seconds after six stages. Ronald Lomotos is in second with 18:13:47 while Daniel Cariño and Jan Paul Morales are in third and fourth spots with clockings of 18:14:43 and 18:15:51, respectively.

Stage Eight is a 183-km race from to Unisan, Batangas on Friday while Stage Nine is a 40-km criterium race starting and ending at Paseo in Sta. Rosa Laguna on Sunday.

“We have to watch out for that three stages or we could lose some precious minutes there,” said Reinhard Gorrantes, coach of the powerhouse Navy squad, which occupies the top four places in the ranking.

Cris Joven of Kinetix Lab-Army is at No. 5 overall with a time of 18:15:51 followed by Go for Gold’s Elmer Navarro (18:17:57), RC Cola-NCR’s Leonel Dimaano (18:18:01), Go for Gold’s Ismael Grospe Jr. (18:19:02), Army’s Lord Anthony del Rosario (18:19:44) and Go for Gold’s Jonel Carcueva (18:20:33).

But despite their lead, Gorrantes remain wary of his wards’ chances.

“I keep telling them that we’re just on our seventh stage and we still have seven stages to go,” said Gorrantes. “And I think they know that their lead is not safe and we still have to work hard for us to fend off the challengers.”

The 31-year-old Morales, seeking to become the first back-to-back winner of the LBC Ronda, is looking at the 40-km Individual Time Trial Stage 12 in Iloilo City on March 2 as the most decisive lap.

“The ITT in Iloilo will be a little difficult because it is long. There’s a chance you could lose maybe around four minutes there,” said Morales. “If you want to win this year, you have to have a six-minute lead after the ITT.”

Joven, 30, is also out to foil the Navymen’s domination of the event.

“I’m still confident of my chance because we still have eight stages to go,” said Joven, in the hunt for the top P1 million purse courtesy of presentor LBC and in partnership with MVP Sports Foundation, Petron, Mitsubishi,, Partas, Maynilad, Standard Insurance, CCN, Bike Xtreme, NLEX, PhilCycling and 3Q Sports Event Management.

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