RUDY Roque topped the Calamba to Antipolo Stage 11 to close in on leader and Navy-Standard teammate Jan Paul Morales on Tuesday in the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2017.
The 25-year-old Roque finished the 140-kilometer race in three hours, 57 minutes and 39 seconds to claim his second stage win after topping the opening Vigan-Laoag-Vigan stage.
Roque is now just a little over two minutes behind after starting the day four minutes off the pace.
Morales, 31, finished second in the stage in 3:59:43, the same clocking submitted by Go for Gold's Ronnel Hualda, who wound up third.
Morales has an aggregate time 37:25:56, while Roque is at 37:28:11.
Roque admitted that the goal is to put distance between himself and Cris Joven of Kinetix Lab-Army, who remained at No. 3 but now 11 minutes behind.
"I'm happy I still have a chance at No. 1 but I'm happy to just gain some minutes against Joven," said Roque, who placed ninth in the inaugural Ronda six years ago.
It was Morales' seventh podium finish with victories in Stage Two in Vigan, Stage Three in Subic, Stage Eight in Daet and Stage Nine in Unisan, Quezon.
"I was feeling it in the mountians so I just paced myself. I'm still happy that a fellow Navy won the stage," said Morales.
"I think it will be hard for them to close in on Rudy (Roque) and I," said Morales, looking to become the first back-to-back Ronda winner.
Go for Gold's Bryant Sepnio jumped from sixth to fourth overall at 37:41:33, while RC Cola-NCR's Lionel Dimaano leapt from eighth to No. 5 at 37:46:05.
Ilocos Sur's Ryan Serapio and Navy's Daniel Ven Carino and skipper Lloyd Lucien Reynante rejoined the top 10 at Nos. 6, 7 and 8, respectively.
The race will take a week-long break and will resume with Stage 12 on March 2 in Guimaras. Stages 13 and 14 wil be held in Iloilo City on March 3 and 4.
The champion of the race backed by MVP Sports Foundation, Petron, Mitsubishi, Versa.ph, Partas, Maynilad, Standard Insurance, CCN, Bike Xtreme, NLEX, PhilCycling and 3Q Sports Event Management will receive P1 million.