DEFENDING champion Jan Paul Morales of Navy-Standard Insurance took his second stage victory, topping the 137-km Stage Three in the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2017 from Angeles City in Pampanga to Harbour Square in Subic Bay.
Morales clocked three hours, 25 minutes and 46 seconds, almost three minutes ahead of Ilocos Sur's Jemico Brioso, RC Cola NCR's Leonel Dimaano and Kinetix Lab-Army's Cris Joven.
Brioso, Dimaano and Joven submitted identical times of 3:28:32.
The 31-year-old Morales, looking to become the first back-to-back champion of the event, jumped from 16th to third overall with an aggregate time of 8:33:44.
Rudy Roque kept the lead and Ronald Lomotos stayed in second as they finished with the main pack that clocked 3:29:07.
Lomotos stands 20 seconds off the pace, while Morales was a minute and a half behind.
It was Morales' second straight stage triumph after he reigned supreme in the Stage Two criterium in Vigan, Ilocos Sur Sunday.
"I'm just focused on winning this stage and made my move when I got the opportunity," said Morales, a native of Calumpang, Marikina City.
Go for Gold rookie Jonel Carcueva, who made it to the main race through the Bacolod City qualifying race in December, wound up joint fifth with and Kinetix Lab-Army's Alvin Benosa in 3:29:01.
Roque said he will do his best to bounce back in Stage Four, a 111-km road race starting and ending here in Subic.
"I was heavily guarded but I will try to make a move in Stage Four," said Roque, a proud son of Tibo, Bataan whose best finish here was ninth in Ronda's inaugural edition six years ago.
Go for Gold's Ismael Grospe, Jr. retained his No. 4 spot in 8:34:38 while Carcueva moves up to No. 5 overall in 8:36:01.
Rounding out the top 10 were Navy's Jay Lampawog (8:36:03), Ilocos Sur's Ryan Serapio (8:36:04), Mindanao-Sultan Kudarat's Roel Quitoy (8:36:08) and Kinetix Lab-Army's Alvin Benosa (8:36:09) and Reynaldo Navarro (8:36:15). The race 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.