DEFENDING champion Jan Paul Morales of Navy-Standard Insurance and Cris Joven of Kinetix Lab-Army finished first and second in Stage Seven to gain precious seconds in the overall individual race halfway through the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2017.
Morales edged Joven in the final sprint while six others followed to log the same clocking of six hours, nine minutes and four seconds in the race from the Camsur Watersports Complex in Pili, Camarines Sur and ended in Daet.
Go for Gold’s Elmer Navarro wound up third ahead of Ilocos Sur’s Ryan Serapio, Army’s Ronnilan Quita, RC Cola-NCR’s Leonel Dimaano, red LBC jersey wearer Rudy Roque of Navy and Ilocos Sur’s Jemico Brioso.
“I was cramping but I endured it,” said the 31-year-old Morales, who approached the finish line massaging his right leg to prevent cramps.
While Morales battled cramps, Joven, 30, had a scare at the start after complaining of chest pains and dizziness.
“I felt something in my heart and I thought I was losing consciousness. Good things I shouted several times that helped me stay in the race,” said Joven, who went straight to the race doctors after the stage.
Morales moved from fourth third with an aggregate time of 24:24:42 while Joven leapt from No. 5 to No. 4 with a total clocking of 24:25:07.
Roque kept his grip of the lead with a time of 24:21:52, a little less than two and half minutes ahead of closest pursuer and Navy teammate Ronald Lomotos, who has a clocking of 24:24:13.
Lomotos , who was stuck in the peloton, is now just 29 seconds ahead of Morales and less than a minute ahead of Joven.
The Daet-Unisan Stage Eight is 183km.
“It’s another long race, we’ll see,” said Morales.
“I hope to gain some more seconds and close in on them,” said Joven, who is from Iriga, Camarines Sur, referring to Roque, Lomotos and Morales.
Navyman Daniel Ven Carino fizzled out in the ascent in Ragay, Camarines Sur and also got stranded in the peloton that saw him sliding from No. 3 to No. 10 with 24:33:17.
Go for Gold made its presence felt as four of its riders are now in the top 10 — Elmer Navarro at No. 5, Ismael Gropse, Jr. at No. 7, Jonel Carcueva at No. 8 and Bryant Sepnio at No. 9 with 24:26:58, 24:29:03, 24:29:41 and 24:31:29, respectively.
Ronda offers P1 million to the champion 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.