VIGAN—The suspense was gone long before the final stage was fired off. George Oconer went from top contender to king when the LBC Ronda Pilipinas snaked upward to Baguio two days before. Even earlier, his Standard Insurance-Navy squad cornered the team crown.
Stage 10 was a mere ceremonial trip for both rider and team.
“Winning it here is a special moment for me,” said Oconer, who spent 32 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds on the saddle busting his lungs to rule the 10th anniversary race on Wednesday.
The last 51 minutes or so was a cruise for Oconer, who merely tucked himself behind the main peloton that teammate Jan Paul Morales towed to the finish in 51:20.
When he approached the finish line, the 28-year-old Oconer celebrated his first title by raising two arms and basking in the applause of an appreciative crowd that lined the streets here.
Oconer pocketed the top purse worth P1 million and earned himself the rightful label as the country’s finest cyclist today.
Oconer’s triumph underscored Standard’s Ronda domination as it also sent five more of its riders—Ronald Oranza, Ronald Lomotos, John Mark Camingao, Junrey Navarra and El Joshua Cariño—in the top 10 while running away with the team crown.
Standard also registered five stage wins, three of which were forged by Morales, a two-time winner here who also secured the CCN Sprint plum. Navarra, meanwhile, emerged the Versa King of the Mountain.
The race marked the last for 2011 and 2015 champ Santy Barnachea, who announced his retirement at the finish.
“I’m now focusing my time on 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.
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