CAGAYAN DE ORO — Philippine Navy-Standard Insurance's Jan Paul Morales looks to tighten his grip on the overall lead while teammate Ronald Oranza shoots for his third lap victory as Stage Three of the 2016 LBC Ronda Pilipinas Mindanao Leg resumes Tuesday with a criterium race over a 2.4-kilometer loop at Pueblo de Oro.
After two stages, Morales is ahead of the pack with 29 points, 18 of which came fromrunner-up finishs to Oranza in the first two laps in Butuan City over the weekend that propelled him to the symbollic LBC red leader's jersey.
He also picked up eight points from winding up second to Navy team captain Lloyd Lucien Reynante in the lone King of the Mountain result of the Mindanao leg, and another three for topping the intermediate sprint race in the opening stage.
With the Navy dominating the Ronda Pilipinas so far, Morales also knows his fiercest foe will come from his team and he has no problem with it.
"If a Navy teammate wins this, I will be happy for him. If I do, I will be happier," said Morales, a 31-year-old native of Calumpang, Marikina.
Morales, though, enters Stage Three a little battered as he suffered bruises on his right shoulder and thigh when he accidentally bumped into Oranza's rear wheel in one of the turns and crashed in Stage Two.
"Nothing serious, they're just bruises," he said.
Reynante runs a close second behind Morales after having accumulated 23 points, including 10 from emerging the KOM winner of this five-stage leg that ushered in this sixth edition of this event considered as the biggest cycling race in the country.
"I still have some fight in me, I still feel young," said the 37-year-old Reynante, whose late father Manuel won the Tour twice in 1977 and 1980.
Oranza, who hails from Villasis, Pangasinan, reigned supreme in the first two stages including the 3.71-km Stage Two where he timed in an hour, 17 minutes and 59.32 seconds and earned 20 points. But despite his dominant showing, he ended up in the third spot with 20 points as he didn't gain any point from the KOM and sprint races. Still, he remains hopeful ahead of Stage Three.
"I will do my best to win another one," said Oranza.
It was an all-Navy show entering Stage Three as Rudy Roque (17 points), the younger Daniel Ven Carino (16), Joel Calderon (12), John Mark Camingao (10) and the elder El Joshua Carino (5), have occupied the first eight positions.
Team LCC Lutayan's James Paolo Ferfas and LBC/MVPSF's Ronnilon Quita were the only riders outside Navy who crashed into the top 10 overall with five and three points, respectively.
The Navymen also led in the other categories courtesy of Camingao (top local), Reynante (king of the mountain) and Morales (sprint).
The event, which is presented by LBC and LBC Express, sanctioned by PhilCycling and sponsored by Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation, Petron and Versa Radio-Tech 1 Corp. with Maynilad and NLEX as minor sponsors, will take a one-day break today.