JAN Paul Morales tries to pad his lead over Navy teammate Rudy Roque as the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2017 resumes on Thursday with the Individual Time Trial Stage 12 in Guimaras.
The 31-year-old is on top with an aggregate time of 37 hours, 25 minutes and 56 seconds, about two minutes ahead of fellow Navyman Rudy Roque.
A strong finish in the 40-km ITT could very well seal the title for Morales.
"If I do good in the ITT, I think I will win this," said Morales, hoping to become the first back-to-back Ronda winner.
The 25-year-old Roque isn’t a big time trial rider, and said he will be pleased with second spot behind Morales.
"I always dream of becoming champion of a race as big as this but finishing second will also be enough for me," said Roque, ninth overall in the Ronda six years ago.
Kinetix Lab-Army's Cris Joven is a distant third, over 11 minutes off the pace (37:37:03).
Go for Gold's Bryant Sepnio is running fourth at 37:41:33, with RC Cola-NCR's Lionel Dimaano at No. 5 with 37:46:05, followed by Ilocos Sur's Ryan Serapio (37:47:16), Navy's Daniel Ven Carino (37:48:28), and Navy skipper Lloyd Lucien Reynante (37:48:43).
The 38-year-old Reynante, son of Tour ng Pilipinas and Marlboro Tour champion Maui Reynante, is set to ride his last three stages before retiring.
"This will be the last year's I'm competiting competitively. It has been a memorable career for me and I think its time to rest my body," said Reynante, who is also retiring from Navy this July after 20 years of service.
After Guimaras is the 209-km Iloilo-Antique-Iloilo Stage 13 on Friday and the Iloilo final stage criterium on Saturday. The Ronda champion will get P1 million from LBC, MVP Sports Foundation, Petron, Mitsubishi, Versa.ph, Partas, Maynilad, Standard Insurance, CCN, Bike Xtreme, NLEX, PhilCycling and 3Q Sports Event Management.