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Morales virtual champ

GUIMARAS – Jan Paul Morales of Navy-Standard Insurance ruled the 40-km Individual Time Trial Stage 12 to virtually clinch the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2017 title at the Provinicial Capitol here yesterday.

Morales, 31, was just a class above the rest as he ruled the ITT with plenty to spare with a clocking of an hour, five minutes and 42 seconds that further solidified his grip of the overall individual lead.

So dominating was the Calumpang, Marikina City native that he overlapped his closest pursuers Rudy Roque of Navy, Cris Joven of Kinetix Lab-Army and Go for Gold’s Bryant Sepnio and nearly caught up with erstwhile No. 5 Leonel Dimaano of RC Cola-NCR at the finish.

Another Navyman Jay Lampawog wound up second in the stage in 1:09:13 while Kinetix Lab-Army’s Marvin Tapic checked in at third in 1:09:19.

It was Morales’ fifth lap victory after he topped the Stage Two criterium in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, the Angeles-Subic Stage Three, the Pili-Daet Stage Seven and the Stage Nine criterium in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

The impressive performance reduced the final two stages in Iloilo City as Morales’ victory ride he turned his two-minute lead over the 25-year-old Roque to a little more than nine minutes as the latter has a total clocking of 38:40:55.

“Yes, I’m slowly starting to feel it,” said Morales.

Morales, however, said he will be a little cautious in today’s 209-km Iloilo-Antique-Iloilo Stage 13.

The 14th and final stage – a 50-km critierium that starts and ends in Iloilo City – is on Saturday.

“I need to ride intelligently and avoid potential problems and I think I can do that,” said Morales.

Joven checked in seventh in the stage in 1:10:54 to eat some minutes from Roque’s nine-minute edge.