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    Morales grabs Ronda PH overall lead


    Ronald Oranza and teammate Jan Paul Morales of Navy-Standard Insurance finished first and second, respectively, in the 40-kilometer Stage One criterium of the Ronda Pilipinas 2018 presented by LBC in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.

    Morales though gained enough points in the intermediate sprint races to seize the overall lead.

    Morales, aiming for his third straight title in the race, was behind Oranza ahead of eventual third placer Alvin Benosa of Army-Bicycology and George Oconer of Go for Gold with identical time records of one hour and 11.21 minutes. The defending champ grabbed the overall lead after dominating two intermediate sprint races and garnering a total bonus points of 15 seconds.

    Jonel Carcueva of Go for Gold finished fifth with a time of 1:11.22 in this race presented by LBC and supported by MVP Sports Foundation, Filinvest, CCN, Petron, Versa.ph, 3Q Sports Event Management, Inc., Boy Kanin, Franzia, Standard Insurance, Bike Xtreme, SH+, Guerciotti, Prolite, Green Planet, Maynilad, NLEX Cycling, Lightwater, LBC Foundation and PhilCycling.

    Morales, 32, of Calumpang, Marikina City, will go into today’s 155.4-km Vigan-Pagudpud Stage Two wearing the LBC red jersey symbolic of the overall leader with an overall time of 1:11:06, three seconds ahead of Oranza.

    “So far, so good,” said Morales, who ruled this same stage in 2017 beating fellow Navyman Rudy Roque, in Filipino.

    Army sergeant And Benosa, 37, threatened Morales and Oranza with a blistering run near the finish line fronting the Provincial Capitol only to falter in the end.

    “I’m just happy to make it to the podium because my best finish in the stage last year was fourth,” said the Iriga native Benosa who finished 17th overall last year.

    Oranza emerged as second overall with 1:11:09 followed by Oconer, Benosa and Carcueva with times of 1:11:17, 1:11:18 and 1:11:22, respectively.

    Rounding up the top 10 were Team Franzia’s Leonel Dimaano (1:12:45), Navy-Standard’s Junrey Navarra (1:12:45), Go for Gold Developmental team’s Ismael Grospe, Jr. (1:12:45), Navy’s Rudy Roque (1:12:52) and Bike Xtreme’s James Ferfas (1:12:52).

    Two-time winner Santy Barnachea of Team Franzia, 2013 champion Irish Valenzuela of CCN Superteam and last year’s third placer Cris Joven of Army-Bicycology, were outside the top 10.

    Barnachea, 42, was 36th overall and about two minutes off the pace while Valenzuela was at No. 18 or 1:49 minutes behind Morales.

    Joven was at 56th with 1:16:03.

    Morales and Oranza’s output allowed the Navy to seize the team lead with a total time of 4:48:19 ahead of Oconer’s Go for Gold with 4:48:33 and Army with 4:150:17.

    A P1 million prize awaits the individual champion and P150,000 the team winner.

    After passing through the cobblestone street of Calle Crisologo, the race resumes today, starting in front of the Capitol, cruising through Laoag City, Ilocos Norte before finishing in front of the Pagudpud Municipal Hall.


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