Testy Baguio climb makes a king out of Oconer
BAGUIO CITY—Every bike race considers the ascent to this summer capital as the stage where contenders become kings. On Monday, after eight stages of the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 10th anniversary race, George Oconer of Standard Insurance-Navy rode his way to the throne.
Shielded expertly by his teammates, who made sure the 28-year-old Navy lead rider wouldn’t get ditched by any breakaway, Oconer joined a 10-man group that finished first after a grueling 170.6-kilometer lung-crushing ride from Palayan in Nueva Ecija to this chilly mountain city.
Stage winner Daniel Ven Cariño of Go For Gold led that group, which crossed the finish in four hours, 30 minutes and four seconds.
The 28-year-old Oconer thus kept the lead in the individual classification with an aggregate time of 27:34:35. Only a major disaster can stall his coronation. The next five riders in the overall race are his Standard Insurance teammates—Ronald Oranza (27:35:50), Ronald Lomotos (27:35:53), John Mark Camingao (27:36:28), Junrey Navarra (27:36:52) and El Joshua Cariño (27:38:26)—who kept Oconer protected from breakaways in Stage Eight.
“I’m thankful for my teammates for helping me; we treat each other as brothers,” Oconer said.
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