Standard Insurance-Navy struck like a lightning and dominated Stage Five where six of its riders headed by George Oconer checked in at the finish together to seize the lead in almost all the categories possible in the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 10th anniversary race in Antipolo on Thursday.
John Mark Camingao topped the 122.6km stage that started in Lucena City and ended in front of the capitol followed by 2018 Ronda king Ronald Oranza and many-time King of the Mountain Junrey Navarra.
El Joshua Carino, Ronald Lomotos and George Oconer were also in that group that clocked three hours, 12 minutes and 50 seconds in this 10-stage race presented by LBC and supported by the Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation.
So impressive was the Navy men’s feat that they pulled away as early as the first eight-kilometer mark in Lucban, Quezon and kept their stranglehold of the lead until the finish where they were met by a loud crowd of local cyclists and fans.
Jan Paul Morales, the 2016 and 2017 winner, was originally part of that lead pack but decided to move back to the peloton of this race backed by 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
The spectacular effort catapulted Oconer from second in the general individual classification race to first with an aggregate time of 17:54:13.
And Oconer is expected to go all out to protect the red LBC jersey he will wear when the race resumes tomorrow with the 111.9km Stage Six that will start at the capitol and end at the Tarlac Recreational Park in San Jose.
“It’s still too early to tell but we will do our best to protect the lead,” said the 28-year-old Oconer, who was always a perennial contender but never a winner.
It also sent Oranza, Lomotos, Camingao, Navarra and Carino to second to sixth spots in 17:55:28, 17:55:31, 17:56:06, 17:56:30 and 17:58:04, respectively, while shoving Mark Julius Bordeos of Bicycology-Army down to seventh in 17:59:27.
7Eleven Cliqq-Ari21 by Roadbike Philippines’ Rustom Lim was at No. 8 in 17:59:33 while Go for Gold’s Jonel Carcueva and Ismael Grospe, Jr. rounded out the top 10 in 17:59:41 and 18:00:01.
Standard also put a big separation from the rest of the field in the team race with a total clocking of 71:36:57, or 23.40 minutes ahead of Go for Gold, which jumped from fourth to second in 72:00:37.
Bicycology-Army stayed at third in 72:02:16 while 7Eleven sputtered from second to fourth in 71:05:52.
Morales also led in the CCN sprint race while Carino the Versa KOM.
The only category that Standard didn’t snatch was the MVPSF Best Under-23 rider, which Grospe held.
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