Former LBC Ronda Pilipinas back-to-back champion and stage 7 winner Jan Paul Morales snatched the victory over his closest rivals in LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2020 in the Capital City of Nueva Ecija.
The devastating victory is the fourth consecutive triumph of the Philippine Navy Standard Insurance in LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2020.
The seventy-seven avid riders traversed Tarlac’s capital city and the Nueva Ecija Municipalities of La Paz, Zaragoza, Jaen, Sta. Rosa, Laur, where Fort Magsaysay, the largest military reservation in the Philippines, is located, Cabanatuan City and Palayan City in Nueva Ecija.
As the race was flagged off at zero mark, Bicycology Shop Army rider Cris Joven initially induced to break away but was caught off guard and quickly overtaken by Team Nueva Ecija Christian Valeriano early in the race. Also, TNE Orly Villanueva and Ryan Tugawin followed suit.
Meanwhile Meanwhile, five breakaway riders were also spotted early in the race like, G4G Jonel Carcueva, TNE Orly Villanueva, PNSI Junrey Navara, CCT Riemon Lapaza and BXP Jay Patrick Alcantara.
Minutes later, another array of breakaway was formed with G4G Marc Ryan Lago towing riders like TIS Sherwin Carrera, 711 Mervin Corpuz and TIS Jaypee Olarte.
The four riders even ran through the sprint zone situated at 26.2 km-mark in Zaragoza. Afterward, Lago earned 5 points followed by Corpuz, Olarte and Carrera in the sprint zone.
Meanwhile, at the KOM summit, in Tanauan, Laur, three riders in the breakaway and the sprint zone minus 711 Mervin Corpuz negotiated the uphill trek. TIS Jaypee Olarte earned 5 points in the KOM summit followed shortly by BXP Jheffson Sotto.
However, the four in the breakaway only lasted until 25 kilometers to the finish before the peloton surmounted them.
In the last five kilometers, PNSI Jan Paul Morales was nowhere-to-be-found. He had not dominated the race nor was present in the breakaway synthesis during the 110.6-km Tarlac City to Palayan City race.
Only 7-Eleven rider Marcelo Felipe, TCL Ryan Tugawin, TNE Arjay Peralta, and BSA Cris Joven were spotted in the breakaway in the last five kilometers en route to the finish line in Palayan City.
Both Marcelo and Tugawin were alternately towing Peralta and Joven at 42 kph with strong headwinds while the peloton was closing the gap and behind by about 26 seconds.
However, in the last 100 meters, the unwavering main bunch overwhelmed the breakaway and sprinted to the finish line alongside elusive PNSI Jan Paul Morales in a photo finish race. Closely, BSA rider Dominic Perez and Novo Ecijano rider Rustom Lim of 7-Eleven Cliqq-Air 21 by RBP trailed the Navy Captain.
Jan Paul Morales completed the 110.6-km stage 7 race with a clocking of 2 hours, 35 minutes and 20 seconds.
According to PNSI Coach Reinhard Gorantes, he privately informed Morales when the latter was refilling water from their broom wagon that 7-Eleven Cliqq Top Gun Marcelo Felipe, who is currently struggling in the GC, was on the loose from the peloton and about 75 seconds ahead. Thus, he tracked Felipe in front at the last 15 kms and slipped through the finish line first to dominate stage 7 of LBC Ronda Pilipinas.
Furthermore, Reinhard Gorantes said that the GC is for everybody in the PNSI, considering that the current top six of the competition are in the same team.
Further, Gorantes, who is one of the founding members of the 6-man squad of the Philippine Navy since Standard Insurance sponsored the Navy in 2012, said that they would work doubly hard to get hold of the GC continuously.
As of stage 7, the race entourage has already covered the distance of 959 kilometers since its commencement in Sorsogon City on 23 February 2020.
PNSI has since dominated the majority of these stages and in classification, like GC, Sprint, and KOM in the four stages.
The 170-km, Palayan City to Baguio City Stage 8, will be the deciding stage for both the GC and Team Classification as they will traverse some parts of Central Luzon, Ilocandia, and Cordillera Administrative Region tomorrow, 2 March 2020.
In Cordillera Administrative Region, the riders will blast at the foot of the 37 kilometer-Marcos Highway going to the City of Pines. A sprint zone and KOM are situated at 96.2 km-mark in Binalonan, Pangasinan, and 162.6 km-mark near Green Valley Arch.
Since stage 5, PNSI’s riders George Luis Oconer, Jan Paul Morales, El Joshua Cariño and Go For Gold’s youngster, Ismael Grospe have defended their leadership title.