Tarlac City—Riders from Philippine Navy-Standard Insurance refused to leave any of their teammates behind and team skipper Jan Paul Morales’ sacrifice paid off as he took the Stage 6 honors of the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 10th anniversary race.
The Navymen stayed behind and let three riders, Ronnel Hualda of Go For Gold, Army-Bicycology’s Marvin Tapic and Bike Extreme’s Warren Bordeos take charge in the last 25 kms of the chase into the Tarlac Recreational Park finish line.
After making sure that red jersey leader George Oconer is in good hands, Morales and his teammates moved in and took control of the last 500 meters, where the latter surged past Armyman Dominic Perez as they crossed the finish.
The 34-year-old Morales submitted a time of two hours, 34 minutes and 58 seconds when it was over, along with Perez, whom he overtook at the right side in the last 10 meters.
More than 20 riders had the same time as Morales, a bronze medallist in the 30th Southeast Asian Games team time trials.
“Nu’ng unang 50-kms, naiwan si George, kami ni (Junrey) Navarra sa first group. Hindi kami pumapalit sa first group. Pagdating ni George, dinala na namin. Bumagal sa first group na nabuo Moncada. Banatan, siguro nalaspag din,” said Morales.
Hualda, who lead a three-man breakaway until the 80-km mark in Mayantoc, finished in sixth spot as he managed to take the sprint honors in Moncada, with Tapic settling for second place.
The Navymen’s efforts to dominate stage came at the 98.5-km mark when they reached the top of the 189-meter high trail in San Jose.
That’s when Navymen El Joshua Carino, Navarra and Ronald Lomotos came up with a 1-2-3 finish, leaving a 16-man pack behind in the downhill run towards Tarlac City.
The Navymen then logged 10 hours, 19 minutes and 52 seconds in the taking the Stage 6 gold, with team 7-Eleven/Cliqq/Air and Team Go For Gold in second and third, respectively.
Oconer kept the red jersey for the second straight day, boasting of a 75-second edge over teammate Ronald Oranza.
In all, six Navymen are ahead in the general individual classification standings, with Lomotos, John Mark Camingao, Navarra and Carino from third to sixth places.
Bordeos is in seventh, followed by 7-Eleven’s Rustom Lim in eighth.
Morales said it will now be difficult for any team to catch up with them.
“‘Yung sa team, malabo na. Sa individual puro kakampi ko ang sa unahan. Depensa lang kami,” added Morales.
Today’s 116.5-km Stage 7 unfurls at the Capitol here and ends in Palayan, Nueva Ecija.
“There are still four stages to go and anything can happen there,” said Oconer, son of former two-time Olympian Norberto.