Jan Paul Morales is the unrivaled LBC Ronda Pilipinas’ back-to-back champion (2016 to 2017). Further, the former track cyclist is acknowledged as LBC Ronda Pilipinas’ second multiple winner, after Pangasinense rider Santy Barnachea (2011 and 2015). Both Morales and Barnachea raced under the banner of Philippine Navy Standard Insurance when they achieved their Ronda crowns.
Jan Paul Morales, the Philippine Navy’s famous skipper, was born in Morong Town in Rizal Province on 28 January 1986.
The five-foot-six-inch Navy Squad team leader is the proud son of Mr. Paul Morales, a freelance technician, and Mrs. Eva Morales, a former carinderia (a food stall) owner and housemaker.
As a young boy, Jan Paul set about his cycling pastime immediately after graduating from elementary in 1998. Over the weekend, he, alongside his friends, primarily frequented Antipolo to visit Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, famously known as the Virgin of Antipolo, situated at the heart of Antipolo City. The City of Antipolo is roughly nine kilometers away from the Philippines’ Shoe Capital, Marikina City, where Jan Paul Morales hails from.
As a high schooler, he continued his passion for cycling and became heavily engrossed in the said sport. He even cut class to attend cycling activities every Friday in Marikina Sports Center—a stone’s throw from his high school back then.
In 2000, he attended national team junior trials, held in the 14-acre (5.8 ha) Amoranto Sports Complex located in Barangay Paligsahan in Quezon City. Eventually, Morales was selected and inducted as a national team’s track cyclist and sprinter. In general, he developed his cycling skills and even recorded his best time on track in 2000.
At this juncture, Morales mulled over joining the Philippine Army or becoming a full-fledged cyclist as he also set his sights on participating in the 23rd Southeast Asian Games here in Manila. After deep contemplation, he scratched the idea of joining the Armed Forces in the meantime to concentrate on the forthcoming SEA Games in the Philippines.
Meanwhile, in the 23rd Southeast Asian Games staged in Manila in 2005, the trio of Jan Paul Morales, Jojo Talaver and Nilo Estayo bagged the bronze medal in the 4-km team sprint (Olympic sprint).
In the succeeding SEA Games in Thailand in 2007, he captured the bronze for the 1-km individual time trial (ITT), after proudly competing with the former world-champion Malaysian rider Mohd Azizulhasni Bin Awang.
In 2011, during the 26th SEA Games in Indonesia, his team composed of Alfie Catalan, John Mier, and Arnold Marcelo snatched the bronze in the 4-km team pursuit. Morales likewise secured the bronze in the 10-kilometer individual scratch race.
When Jan Paul Morales debuted in a road race at the 27th SEA Games in Myanmar in 2013, his team mediocrely finished the 100-km team time trial (TTT) 6th overall.
Two years later, he again took part in the Southeast Asian Games, held in Singapore in 2015, lagging 7th in the overall ranking in the criterium race.
In the same year, Morales engaged in Asian Cycling Championship in Thailand as well. Here, the silver medalist Morales was close to winning the ticket for Olympics as he was only second to Iran in the individual massed start scratch race.
On the other hand, he skipped the succeeding SEA Games in Malaysia in 2017. He returned afresh in the 30th SEA Games staged in the Philippines in December 2019, wherein his men’s team clinched the bronze in the 82.4 km-team time trial (TTT), held on 7 December 2019.
Even before joining professional cycling, he already admired the likes of Marlboro Tour veterans such as Victor Espiritu, Arnel Querimit, Warren Davadilla, among others.
His career in professional cycling started after completing his basic seaman course in 2010.
His first appearance in professional bicycle racing started when he joined Le Tour de Filipinas in 2011.
In 2012, his historic draft in the newly formed Philippine Navy Standard Insurance (PNSI) earned him his first-two lap wins in his professional career, one on stage four in Surigao and the other on stage seven in Albay. In this period, he was part of the original eight-man team comprised of Reinhard Gorantes, Santy Barnachea, Eboy Quiñonez, Dante Cagas, Lloyd Lucien Reynante, Daniel Asto, and Eric Feliciano.
The following year, in LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2013, his competitors twice got lickings after Morales clasped two stages.
In 2014, during LBC Ronda Pilipinas (international edition) stage 3, Morales figured in a mishap that cost him a fractured wrist. Despite a broken wrist, the unyielding Navy team leader managed to podium on stage 10, finishing second after Im Jae Yeon of Uijeongbu City Cycling Team. The Navy sprinter had endured the fracture and excruciating pain up to the completion of the final stage (14). Meanwhile, his Navy squad bested twelve teams, conquering the overall team classification championship.
In 2015, Morales raced in several cycling competitions here and abroad, such as the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore, Asian Cycling Championship in Thailand and LBC Ronda Pilipinas fifth edition.
His venture in LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2015 earned him a lap win, overall sprint leadership, and third overall in the individual general classification. He closely trailed PSC-Philycycling rider George Oconer by about 41 seconds in the overall GC. For the first time in its four years of joining the summer spectacle, the Philippine Navy Standard Insurance dominated both the individual general and team classifications.
In the subsequent LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2016 edition, Morales made his presence felt after winning four laps, defending his sprint leadership and seizing the overall leadership, becoming LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2016 titleholder and a premier rider. Simultaneously, the country’s biggest cycling competition acclaimed the PNSI to the skies after sustaining their general team classification crown for three consecutive years.
At the culmination of LBC Ronda Pilipinas seventh edition, again, Jan Paul Morales seemed to reach his career’s zenith, as he obtained a whopping six laps, the overall sprint, and ruled the 14-stage match, which he gained his second straight Ronda title. Further, his PNSI team remained the team champion for four glorious years.
Meanwhile, in 2018, both LBC Ronda Pilipinas two-time champions Morales (32) and Barnachea (41), eyed winning their third title in the country’s biggest cycling tournament. Both were teammates from 2012 to 2015.
At this time, Santy Barnachea represented Fanzia Wine while Morales, the PNSI. Incidentally, comebacking LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2013 champion, CCN Superteam rider Irish Valenzuela, who missed three editions of Ronda Pilipinas, was also challenging the titlist, Morales, in LBC Ronda Pilipinas eighth edition, which kickstarted in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.
As it turned out, the overall leadership went to fellow PNSI rider Ronald Oranza. Eventually, Jan Paul Morales was dislodged from his two-year reign and stripped of his Ronda title, becoming second in the GC and a sprint king. Meanwhile, his Navy colleague, Junrey Navarra, received the polka dot jersey (KOM). Concurrently, Philippine Navy Standard Insurance governed the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2018 by one to three finish, setting a five-year-winning streak record, and commanded most classifications except for U23.
In 2019, Morales accomplished yet another remarkable feat after winning a lap in a UCI-sanctioned race for the first time. In this special edition of Ronda Pilipinas, the Navy skipper pulled off a lap win, outsprinting local and international rivals, especially Malaysia’s Saleh brothers, in a bunch sprint on stage 3. In the end, he ended up fourth in the overall GC and third in Best Filipino.
In the recently concluded LBC Ronda Pilipinas anniversary race, the 34-year-old Jan Paul Morales placed 12th overall in the GC. Nonetheless, he won three critical laps, which significantly contributed to the Philippine Navy Standard Insurance’s overall victory since stage four. Likewise, the team captain maintained and defended his sprint leadership, including their overall team leadership.