Kenneth Solis of Team Tarlac clinched his very first lap victory, while George Oconer of Standard Insurance-Navy closed in for the title in the ninth and penultimate stage of the LBC Ronda Pilipinas 10th anniversary race on Tuesday.
Solis, 26, edged Christopher Garado of South Luzon-Batangas and Mar Sudario of Bike Xtreme to top the 170.6-km Stage 9 that started in Pugo, La Union and ended in front of the provincial capitol in Vigan, Ilocos Sur for his most significant performance since joining here four years ago.
Bryant Sepnio of Celeste Cycles, Mervin Corpuz of 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Roadbike Philippines and 2-time champion Santy Barnachea of Scratch It were part of that first group that clocked 4 hours, 15 minutes and 27 seconds.
It was the second lap triumph for Team Tarlac after Ryan Tugawin reigned supreme in Stage 2 in Legazpi City.
The day, however, belonged to the 28-year-old Oconer, who kept a tight hold on the individual general classification lead with an aggregate clocking of 31:50:52 ahead of teammates Ronald Oranza (31:52:07), Ronald Lomotos (31:52:10), John Mark Camingao (31:52:45), Junrey Navarra (31:53:09) and El Joshua Carino (31:54:43).
Rounding up the top 10 were the Go for Gold troika of Jonel Carcueva (31:56:16), Daniel Ven Carino (31:56:38) and Ismael Grospe, Jr. (31:56:40), and Bicycology-Army’s Marvin Tapic (31:59:38).
The final stage will be Oconer’s coronation lap as he will finally end a long search for the title.
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