TARLAC CITY—Standard Insurance-Navy virtually clinched the team title as its skipper Jan Paul Morales topped Stage Six with still four stages to go in the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 10th anniversary race.
The 34-year-old Morales, the 2016 and 2017 champion, edged Dominic Perez of Bicycology-Army and Aidan James Mendoza of 7-Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Roadbike Philippines in a mass finish of the race that started and ended here.
Morales clocked two hours, 34 minutes and 48 seconds in ruling the 111.9-km lap.
George Oconer, another Standard bet, had a rough sailing after getting stuck in the peloton in the early part of the stage but recovered in time to catch up with the lead pack in the end where they were met by a group of cycling enthusiasts.
“In the first 50km, George was left behind while Navarra and I were in the first group,” said Morales. “We only started to take over when George finally caught up with us and we carried him through.”
Oconer, 28, thus kept the individual general classification lead with an aggregate time of 20:29:11 and will wear the LBC red jersey for the second straight day in today’s 116.5km Stage Seven that starts at the Capitol here and ends in Palayan, Nueve Ecija.
Oconer, whose best finish was finishing second to eventual 2015 winner Santy Barnachea, hopes to hang on to it until the end.
“There are still four stages to go and anything can happen there,” said Oconer, son of former two-time Olympian Norberto. “But I will do my best to defend the lead and hopefully win this race.”
Interestingly, the next five riders breathing down Oconer’s neck are his Standard teammates—Ronald Oranza, the 2018 Ronda king, Ronald Lomotos, John Mark Camingao, Junrey Navarra and El Joshua Carino.
Oranza has a clocking of 20:30:26, Lomotos 20:30:29, Camingao 20:31:04, Navarra 20:31:28 and Carino 20:33:02 in this race presented by LBC and supported by the Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation.
Rounding up the top 10 were Mark Julius Bordeos of Bicycology (20:33:25), Rustom Lim of 7Eleven (20:33:31), Jonel Carcueva (20:33:39) and Ismael Grospe, Jr. (20:34:09) of Go for Gold.
The Navymen have also ran away with the team crown with a time of 81:56:49, or a whopping 23.40 minutes ahead of closest pursuer Go for Gold, which has 82:20:29.
Bicycology was at No. 3 with 82:22:08.
Standard are also tipped to take both the CCN sprint and Versa King of the Mountain categories with Morales and Navarra clinging on to it in this race backed by Versa, 8A Performance, Print2Go, Petron, Green Planet, Bike Xtreme, Standard Insurance, Spyder, CCN, Lightwater, Prolite, Guerciotti, Black Mamba, Boy Kanin, Vitamin Boost, NLEX-SCTEX, Maynilad, 3Q Sports Event Management Inc., LBC Foundation and PhilCycling.
The best MVPSF Under-23 rider may have been secured by Go for Gold as three of its bets are on top—Grospe, Daniel Ven Carino and Jericho Jay Lucero.