ILOILO CITY - Kinetix Lab-Army's Mark Julius Bordeos beat five others in a frantic finish to top the penultimate Stage 13 on Friday even as Jan Paul Morales of Navy-Standard Insurance moved a stage away from officially wrapping up his second straight title in the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2017.
Bordeos, 21, outsprinted Navy's Ronald Lomotos, Kinetix Lab-Army's Cris Joven, RC Cola-NCR's Leonel Dimaano, Mindanao Sultan Kudarat's Roel Quitoy and another Armyman, Lord Anthony del Rosario, to secure his very first lap victory.
Lomotos finished second while Joven third sharing identical times with Bordeos, Dimaano, Quitoy and del Rosario of five hours, 19 minutes and one second in the 209-km lap that started and ended at the Iloilo Business Park here.
"Thankful and happy that I won the stage here," said Bordeos, a native of Laoac, Pangasinan, in Filipino.
The 31-year-old Morales checked in at eighth for the stage in 5:19:10 behind No. 7 Marvin Tapic of Kinetix Lab-Army to further solidify his grip of the solo lead in the overall individual race with an aggregate time of 43:50:45, or a whopping 13.09 minutes ahead of teammate Rudy Roque.
Saturday's 14th and final stage - a 50-km criterium that will start and end at the Iloilo Business Park for the second straight day - will serve as a victory ride for the Calumpang, Marikina City rider.
After coming into the stage a little unsure, Morales flashed a smile knowing victory is at hand.
"Yes, I think I'm sure now," said Morales, who will become the first ever back-to-back winner of this race and will join two-time winner Santy Barnachea as the only two-time winners.
Barnachea won the inaugural race six years ago and followed it up with a victory four years later.
Morales also said he will dedicate his triumph to pregnant wife Leni, six-year-old daughter Janel and two-year-old son Jan Paul, Jr.
"Everything I do is for them. They couldn't be here because my wife is two months pregnant," he said.
In all, Morales has won five stages as he topped the Stage Two criterium in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, the Angeles-Subic Stage Three, the Pili-Daet Stage Seven and the Stage Nine criterium in Sta. Rosa, Laguna and the Stage Two Individual Time Trial in Guimaras the day before.
It was a dominating performance for Morales as he is not only assured of the title and the P1 million purse that goes with it but also the Sprint and King of the Mountain title.
Apart from it, Navy is also a lock to win the team crown as it has a total time of 172:24:43 ahead of Kinetix Lab-Army's 173:14:52 and Go for Gold's 173:24:23.
Joven is third overall with 44:06:55 while Go for Gold's Bryant Sepnio (44:17:58), Dimaano (44:18:25), Lomotos (44:19:15), Navy's Daniel Ven Carino (44:22:09), Navy skipper Lloyd Lucien Reynante (44:22:59) and Army's Reynaldo Navarro (44:25:40) and Ronnilan Quita (44:27:00).
Ronda is presented by 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.