MANILA, Philippines — George Oconer went on to become LBC Ronda Pilipinas king while steering his squad Standard-Insurance to win the championship as the 10th anniversary race ended in front of the provincial capitol in Vigan on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old, who was already a sure victor owing to his lead in the individual general classification, contented himself in staying at the back end of the peloton that checked in first in the Stage 10 criterium.
He raised his arms in victory, rode his ceremonial victory lap and was met by a wild applause from the appreciative crowd at the finish where he was met by hug and congratulatory message from Ronda chairman Moe Chulani and Standard Insurance Group chairman Ernesto “Judes” Echauz.
After 10 stages and 11 days covering a total of 14 provinces starting in Sorsogon, Oconer emerged the champion with an aggregate time of 32:42:12 over 68 survivors out of the 88 originally entered.
It was a performance to remember for Oconer as he did not only pocketed the top purse worth P1 million and took home the beautifully crafted trophy, he was also hailed as the best Filipino cyclist today.
“My first race was in Ronda in 2011, that is why finally winning it here is a special moment for me,” said Oconer.
Oconer’s triumph underscored Standard’s Ronda domination as it also sent 5 more of its riders—Ronald Oranza, Ronald Lomotos, John Mark Camingao, Junrey Navarra and El Joshua Carino—in the top 10 behind Oconer while running away with the team crown.
Rounding up the top 10 in the individual race were Go for Gold’s Jonel Carcueva, Daniel Ven Carino and Ismael Grospe, Jr., and Marvin Tapic of Bicycology-Army.
Meanwhile, Santy Barnachea, who won the inaugural edition in 2011 and 2015, announced that he has finished his last race.
“Yes, I’m retiring. I’m now focusing my time to family and maybe coaching,” said the 43-year-old Barnachea, who joined the final two years of the fabled Marlboro Tour in 1997 and 1998 before winning the Fedex Tour of Calabarzon in 2002 and the Padyak Pinoy in 2006.