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Coup de grace for Morales

ILOILO CITY – Jan Paul Morales of Navy Standard Insurance ruled the Stage 14 criterium to officially crown himself champion of the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2017 that started up North in Vigan, Ilocos Sur last month and ended at the Iloilo Business Park here yesterday.

Morales, 31, timed in an hour, five minutes and eight seconds to claim the 50-km final lap while formally crowning himself champion in this annual event considered the biggest cycling race in the country today.

After 14 stages and a whopping 1782.6-km of roads travelled, Morales emerged with the best time of 44:55:35, or a whopping 13.45 minutes ahead of closest pursuer Rudy Roque also of Navy, to become the first ever back-to-back winner here.

The Calumpang, Marikina City native also joined Santy Barnachea as the most titled rider in Ronda with two apiece.

Barnachea won it in the inaugural stage and 2015.

The other past Ronda champions were Albay’s irish Valenzuela (2012), Big City bet Mark Galedo (2013) and Butuan City’s Reimon Lapaza (2014).

It was a dominating performance for Morales, who won a total of six stages after he also 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.

He was also the sprint and king of the mountain winner.

Morales thus pocketed a cool P1,228,500 including the R1 million top purse courtesy of presentor LBC and in partnership with MVP Sports Foundation, Petron, Mitsubishi, Versa.ph, Partas, Maynilad, Standard Insurance, CCN, Bike Xtreme, NLEX, PhilCycling and 3Q Sports Event Management.

That is apart from the share he got from the R50,000 amount his powerhouse Navy-Standard Insurance squad won for reigning supreme in the time race as it finished with an aggregate time of 176:46:09, besting No. 2 Kinetix Lab-Army’s 177:36:36 and No. 3 Go for Gold’s 177:46:07.