BAGUIO CITY. — George Oconer of Standard Insurance-Navy stuck with the 10-man group that checked in first in Stage Eight Monday to virtually clinch the title in the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 10th anniversary race at the Burnham Park here.
Oconer, 28, was one of six Standard riders who crossed the finish line, led by Go for Gold’s Daniel Ven Carino who topped the grueling 170.6km Palayan-Baguio stage in four hours, 30 minutes and four seconds.
Marvin Tapic of Bicycology-Army finished second while Jonel Carcueva of Go for Gold was third for the day in the race presented by LBC and backed by the Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation.
Oconer remained well-entrenched at the helm with a total 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).
The final two stages – the 176.4km Pugo, La Union-Vigan Stage 9 and the Vigan Stage 10 criterium – were reduced into a coronation ride for Oconer, who stands to end his long search for the crown after finishing third in the inaugural edition in 2011 and second in 2015.
The Navymen did everything to protect Oconer, who never really got threatened in cruising to the finish line where 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 as is, there were some changes in the seventh to 10th places as 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 leapt from 10th to ninth in 27:40:23 and Tapic barged into No. 10 from 20th in 27:42:55.
Standard has also claimed the team crown, its sixth straight, while holding on to the lead in the CCN sprint (Jan Paul Morales) and Versa King of the Mountain (Carino) categories.
The only category that didn’t go Standard’s way was the MVPSF Best Under-23 rider, still being contested by Carino, Grospe and another Go for Gold bet Jericho Jay Lucero.
The event, which stakes P1 million to the individual champion, is 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.