Oconer, Navymen set out to protect slim leads
TARLAC CITY—Coming off a much-needed break, George Oconer and his Standard Insurance-Navy team will try to keep the individual and team leads when the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 10th anniversary race gets back on the road on Saturday with the 111.9-kilometer Stage Six that starts at the capitol and ends at Tarlac Recreation Center here.
Zooming from second to grab the overall general classification lead after finishing in the six-man, all-Standard pack that dominated Stage Five in Antipolo on Thursday, the 28-year-old Oconer will resume his chase of finally landing the title while riding with a lot of caution knowing that this is still a wide-open race.
“Anything can happen in the last five stages, that’s why I don’t want to celebrate early. I’ll just do my best and if I win, I win,” said Oconer, son of two-time Olympian Norberto. George was third in the inaugural edition of this race in 2011 and second in 2015.
He is more than a minute ahead of teammate Ronald Oranza, who has a cumulative time of 17 hours, 55 minutes and 28 seconds, with Ronald Lomotos, John Mark Camingao, Junrey Navarra and El Joshua Cariño occupying the next four spots.
Rounding up the top 10 are former leader Mark Julius Bordeos of Bicycology-Army (17:59:27), Rustom Lim of 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Roadbike Philippines (17:59:33), Jonel Carcueva (17:59:41) and Ismael Grospe Jr. (18:00:01) of Go for Gold.
Oconer sees the Palayan-Baguio eighth stage, where 75 surviving riders out of the original 88, as the deciding lap.
“That stage in Baguio will be really difficult, that will decide everything,” he said.
The Navymen are leading Go for Gold and Bicycology-Army.
“We will do our best to also keep the team lead and not relax,” said Standard skipper Jan Paul Morales, the 2016 and 2017 Ronda king.