Santy Barnachea is Ronda Pilipinas champ
BAGUIO CITY—For Santy Barnachea, the last two stages up a nearby mountain and around this city were simply daylong victory rides for his dramatic return to cycling glory.
The 38-year-old Barnachea of Navy formally claimed the Ronda Pilipinas 2015 presented by LBC title to become the only two-time champ after ruling the race in its maiden edition in 2011.
He arrived after the anti-climactic eighth and final stage at Burnham Park in the middle of the main peloton and surrounded by his teammates—three of whom wound up in the top five overall.
“I’m happy already. It’s over,” said Barnachea, who pocketed the P1 million top prize. Barnachea said this victory was “easier” compared to his feat four years ago, where he said he was more of a “one-man army.”
“Now I have teammates who supported me and are really tough riders,” said Barnachea, who coasted to victory clutching a lead of more than seven minutes over George Oconer of PSC-PhilCycling after Thursday’s 6th stage.
He clocked a total of 24 hours, two minutes and 44 seconds to beat Oconer by 6:57. Navy’s John Paul Morales was third overall (7:38 behind) followed by teammates Ronald Oranza (9:22) at fourth, and Lloyd Lucien Reynante at fifth (12:01).
Morales captured the seventh stage Friday, which was an 8.8-km (individual time trial) continuous climb to the Sto. Tomas peak near “Sitio La Presa,” the mythical setting of the hit television drama “Forevermore.”
Oconer, son of a former Olympian and one of the top PH riders, secured the P500,000 runner-up purse after arriving at the finish line holding hands with Morales. The Navy rider was just 40 seconds behind him before the criterium but didn’t make any move to sneak in.
Morales, hoping to use his campaign here as justification to join the national team, came away with P250,000 for finishing third. He likewise crowned himself the Sprint King with P30,000, on top of his P15,000 stage prize. He clocked 28 minutes and 32 seconds in the stage.
In the afternoon, it was Oranza’s time to shine as he topped the criterium (1.5 hours plus three laps around a 3-kilometer circuit around the city plaza) in 1:41:32. It was Oranza’s second stage win which was worth P30,000 each.
Oranza towed fifth stage winner Dominic Perez of 7-Eleven (three seconds behind) and sixth stage winner Jun Rey Navarra of PSC-PhilCycling (three minutes behind) in a 1-2-3 finish.
All through the eight stages, Barnachea didn’t win a single stage, relying on his consistent top-level performance to defy father time and chalk his fourth Tour title. Barnachea stole the overall leadership from Stage 1 winner Oconer after the arduous Lucena-Antipolo Stage 3.
That crucial stage, won by Baler Ravina of 7-Eleven, vaulted Barnachea to the front with an imposing seven-minute advantage over Oconer. He held on to the red jersey from thereon.
Barnachea, who managed to buy a house of his own with the P1 million he won in 2011, said he will share his windfall with the rest of his teammates.
“Money can’t buy the honor and respect I get winning these titles,” said Barnachea in Filipino. He had previously won the 2002 Tour of Calabarzon and the 2006 Padyak Pinoy.
Navarra bagged the King of the Mountain Award worth P30,000.