BAGUIO CITY — Runner-up two years ago, champion this year.
And to think there was no race last year due to Covid-19 pandemic, the rise and entry of Navy Standard Insurance’s Ronald Lomotos to the pantheon of champions was one for the books.
After pedaling like a mad man when nobody was watching him during the Santiago, Isabela-Baguio Stage 9 on Saturday, Lomotos used the 10th and final stage Sunday as a victory ride as he officially crowned himself the 11th LBC Ronda Pilipinas champion.
Fittingly, like a conquering hero, Lomotos proudly raised his trophy before a roaring crowd at the famous Burnham Park of this mountaintop city.
Lomotos, 27, was with the group that included his team captain and closest pursuer Ronald Oranza when he crossed the finish line of this 3.1-kilometer criterium at 20th place in an hour, 17 minutes and 50 seconds.
And after 10 stages of battling more than 1,000 kilometers of flat roads and mountain passes from different cities and towns starting in Sorsogon, the San Felipe, Zambales native found himself P1 million richer for his feat.
“I still can’t believe I’m now LBC Ronda Pilipinas champion,” said Lomotos, who finished second overall behind Navy teammate George Oconer in the last edition of this annual cycling spectacle two years ago.
In all, Lomotos has an aggregate time of 35:31:38 – 21 seconds faster than Oranza, who was met by his whole family here.
Oranza settled for P400,000 runner-up prize.
The two Ronalds’ efforts capped what had been a dominating race by Navy Standard Insurance, who had three others ending up in the top 10—El Joshua Carino (No. 3, 35:50:32), Jeremy Lizardo (No. 4, 35:50:43) and John Mark Camingao (No. 10, 36:12:17).
The other top 10 finishers were Excellent Noodles’ Joshua Mari Bonifacio (35:51:46), Go for Gold’s Jonel Carcueva (35:53:57), Excellent Noodles’ Jan Paul Morales (35:55:23) and Joshua Pascual (35:56:34) and Team Nueva Ecija’s Marcelo Felipe (35:58:53).
Navy also claimed its seventh Ronda team crown with a total clocking of 103:56:27 while claiming other individual awards—Oranza (Twin Cycle Gear King of the Mountain), and Jeremy Lizardo (MVP Under-23 and Gogo Express Top Rookie).
Ironically, the only trophy Navy failed to snare was the award that its patron is sponsoring—the Standard Insurance Sprint King plum—that went to Felipe.
Excellent Noodles, a team managed by Alex Billan, for its part, had an exceptional Ronda debut as it finished second in the team race in 35:56:34 while sending 12 of its riders to podium finishes including six stage wins that was capped by Ryan Tugawin’s victorious Stage 10 effort in 1:17:15.
“Having riders in the podium finish in all 10 stages and ending up second overall is already a blessing,” said Billan, who has been competing and patronizing executive races before joining Ronda for the first time.
Oconer was second with the same clocking while Go for Gold’s Ronnilan Quita was third in 1:17:16.
Meanwhile, Excellent Noodles racing captain Santy Barnachea announced that he would retiring for good after delaying it to lead his squad to a solid performance.
“I’m retiring after 25 years in cycling, I will focus on coaching,” said the 47-year-old two-time Ronda winner.
This annual event that staked a total cash pot worth P3.5 million cash pot was made possible by LBC Express, Inc., MVP Sports Foundation, Quad X, Smart, Twin Cycle Gear, Standard Insurance, Print2Go, Elves Bicycles, Elitewheels, Orome, Maynilad, PhilHydro, Garmin, Petron, Boy Kanin, Green Planet Bikeshop, Prolite, Fujiwara, Black Mamba Energy Drink, Lightwater, LBC Foundation, PhilCycling and the Games and Amusements Board.