Ronald Lomotos of Navy Standard Insurance used the 10th and final stage as a victory ride on Sunday to crown himself the champion of the 11th LBC Ronda Pilipinas that ended at the Burnham Park in Baguio City.
Lomotos, 27, was with the group that included his team captain and closest pursuer Ronald Oranza when he crossed the finish line of this 3.1-kilometer criterium at 20th place in an hour, 17 minutes and 50 seconds.
And after 10 stages of more than 1,000 kilometers of flat roads and mountain pass from different cities and towns starting in Sorsogon, the San Felipe, Zambales native has crowned himself Ronda king and with the cash purse worth a cool P1 million to boot.
“I still can’t believe I’m now LBC Ronda Pilipinas champion,” said Lomotos, who finished second overall behind Navy teammate George Oconer in the last edition of this annual cycling spectacle two years ago.
In all, Lomotos has an aggregate time of 35:31:38 in edging Oranza for the most coveted prize as the latter wound up second in 35:31:59.
The 29-year-old Oranza, the 2018 winner who was met by his whole family here, fell to second place after coming close to snaring his second crown after coming into the penultimate Santiago, Isabela-Baguio Stage 10 as the red LBC jersey wearer.
But as fate would have it, Oranza came seconds short of achieving his goal after Lomotos rose from the ashes and delivered a performance to remember in the mountains of Kayapa and Bokod, Nueva Vizcaya.
Oranza though pocketed P400,000 for his effort.
The two Ronalds’ efforts capped what had been a dominating race by Navy Standard Insurance, who had three others ending up in the top 10—El Joshua Carino (No. 3, 35:50:32), Jeremy Lizardo (No. 4, 35:50:43) and John Mark Camingao (No. 10, 36:12:17).
The other top 10 finishers were Excellent Noodles’ Joshua Mari Bonifacio (35:51:46), Go for Gold’s Jonel Carcueva (35:53:57), Excellent Noodles’ Jan Paul Morales (35:55:23) and Joshua Pascual (35:56:34) and Team Nueva Ecija’s Marcelo Felipe (35:58:53).
Navy also claimed its seventh Ronda team crown with a total clocking of 103:56:27 while claiming other individual awards—Oranza (Twin Cycle Gear King of the Mountain), and Jeremy Lizardo (MVP Under-23 and Gogo Express Top Rookie).
Ironically, the only trophy Navy failed to snare was the award that its patron is sponsoring—the Standard Insurance Sprint King plum—that went to Felipe.
Excellent Noodles, a team managed by Alex Billan, for its part, had an exceptional Ronda debut as it finished second in the team race in 35:56:34 while sending 12 of its riders to podium finishes including six stage wins that was capped by Ryan Tugawin’s victorious Stage 10 effort in 1:17:15.
“Having riders in the podium finish in all 10 stages and ending up second overall is already a blessing,” said Billan, who has been competing and patronizing executive races before joining Ronda for the first time.
Oconer was second with the same clocking while Go for Gold’s Ronnilan Quita was third in 1:17:16.
Meanwhile, Excellent Noodles racing captain Santy Barnachea announced that he would retire for good after delaying it to lead his squad to a solid performance.
“I’m retiring after 25 years in cycling, I will focus on coaching,” said the 47-year-old two-time Ronda winner.
This annual event that staked a total cash pot worth P3.5 million cash pot was made possible by LBC Express, Inc., MVP Sports Foundation, Quad X, Smart, Twin Cycle Gear, Standard Insurance, Print2Go, Elves Bicycles, Elitewheels, Orome, Maynilad, PhilHydro, Garmin, Petron, Boy Kanin, Green Planet Bikeshop, Prolite, Fujiwara, Black Mamba Energy Drink, Lightwater, LBC Foundation, PhilCycling, and the Games and Amusements Board.