BAGUIO CITY — George Oconer of Standard Insurance-Navy stuck with the 10-man group that checked in first in Stage Eight to virtually clinch the title, in the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 10th anniversary race at the Burnham Park on Monday.
Oconer, 28, was one of the six Standard riders who were in the lead pack headed by Go for Gold’s Daniel Ven Carino, who topped the grueling 170.6km Palayan-Baguio stage. He clocked in at four hours, 30 minutes and four seconds.
Marvin Tapic of Bicycology-Army finished in second, while Jonel Carcueva of Go for Gold third in the stage of this race presented by LBC and backed by the Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation.
The effort kept Oconer well-entrenched at the helm with an aggregate time of 27:34:35 ahead of Standard teammates Ronald Oranza (27:35:50); Ronald Lomotos (27:35:53); John Mark Camingao (27:36:28); Junrey Navarra (27:36:52); and El Joshua Carino (27:38:26).
It also reduced the final two stages — the 176.4km Pugo, La Union-Vigan Stage Nine, and the Vigan Stage 10 criterium — to his coronation ride.
Oconer thus ended his long search for the crown after finishing third in the inaugural edition in 2011 and second in 2015.
And the Navymen did everything to protect Oconer, who saw a threat while cruising to the finish line. There, they were met with cheers from the appreciative crowd that included host Mayor Benjamin Magalong.
“I’m thankful for my teammates for helping me. We treat each other as brothers,” said Oconer.
While the top six in the individual general classification remained unperturbed, there were some changes in the seventh to 10th place. Former leader Mark Julius Bordeos of Bicycology and Rustom Lim of 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Roadbike Philippines slipped out from the pack.
Carcueva moved from ninth to seventh in 27:39:59; Carino zoomed from 12th to eighth in 27:40:21; Grospe leaped from 10th to ninth in 27:40:23; while Tapic barged into No. 10 from 20th in 27:42:55.
Standard had also claimed the team crown, its sixth straight, days before while holding on to the CCN sprint (Jan Paul Morales) and Versa King of the Mountain (Carino).
The only category that didn’t go Standard’s way was the MVPSF Best Under-23 rider, which is being contested by Carino, Grospe and another Go for Gold bet Jericho Jay Lucero.
This event, which stakes P1 million the individual champion, is being backed by Palayan, Nueva Ecija, Versa, 8A Performance, Print2Go, Petron, Green Planet, Bike Xtreme, Standard Insurance, Spyder, CCN, Lightwater, Prolite, Guerciotti, Black Mamba, Boy Kanin, Vitamin Boost, NLEX-SCTEX, Maynilad, 3Q Sports Event Management Inc., LBC Foundation and PhilCycling.