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Barnachea eyes one more run, one more Ronda crown
Joey Villar (The Philippine Star) - February 27, 2015 - 4:50pm

BAGUIO CITY--Santy Barnachea was mulling retirement entering the Ronda Pilipinas. After surprising himself and everyone by winning it all for the second time around, he changed his mind.

"Maybe one more," said Barnachea, who at 38 years old yesterday crowned himself champion of the Ronda Pilipinas 2015 presented by LBC by besting all comers including younger, more athletic rivals.

When Barnachea checked in the finish line before a loud and appreciative crowd at Harrison Ave. in front of the bustling Burnham Park where the heart of the Panagbenga Festival celebration will be held, his hands were raised by his Navy-Standard Insurance teammates.

After all, the proud son of Umingan, Pangasinan has won for himself another Ronda crown that made him the very first one to win more than one edition.

Barnachea also carved himself a place up there as one of the top cyclists the country has ever produced having won four titles counting the 2002 Tour of Calabarzon, the 2006 Padyak Pinoy and Ronda's inaugural race four years back.

What made it extra special was that he did it as at not so young age.

"This has got to be the toughest of all my victories because I did it as a 38 years old," said Barnachea, who was met and hugged by his wife Michelle, his parents Santiago and Virginia and his ecstatic teammates at the finish line.

After eight stages packed in just six days of racing on about 1,000 kilometers of flat roads and ascents, Barnachea has clocked 24 hours and 2.44 minutes, besting a field headed by George Oconer of PSC-PhilCycling and teammate Jan Paul Morales, who wound up second and third overall in 24:09.41 and 24:10.22, respectively.

While Barnachea claimed his second P1 million purse, Oconer and Morales went home with P500 and P250,000.

Rounding up the top 10 were Navy's Lloyd Lucien Reynante (24:14.45), ZDK's Edgar Nieto (24:15.10), Army's Irish Valenzuela (24:16.56), 7-Eleven's Baler Ravina (24:17.24), Army's Cris Joven (24:18.18) and Navy's El Joshua Carino (24:23.04).

Morales shared the spotlight as his third place finish was his best ever effort in a General Classification race despite having a reputation as a one-dimensional sprinter.

Not anymore.

"It's redemption for me and I have my teammates to thank for becuase I wouldn't have done this without them," said Morales, also a silver medallist in the Asian Cycling Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand two weeks ago.

Earlier, Morales also won 8.8 individual time trial Stage 7 that ended on top of the Santo Tomas mountain in 28.32 minutes, besting PSC-PhilCycling's Junrey Navarra (28.46) and fast-rising Roel Quitoy of Negros (29.31).

And that is not counting Morales also took the Petron Sprint King award by a mile.

In the eighth and final lap, it was the turn of Ronald Oranza of Navy to take the 74.5-km criterium in 1:41.32, edging 7-Eleven's Dominic Perez (1:41.35) and Navarra (1:41.35) and emerge with the most stage wins after triumphed in the Calamba-Atimonan Stage Two.

Pocket-sized by big-hearted Navarra crowned himself Mitsubishi King of the Mountain for the third straight year after ruling the Dagupan-Baguio Stage Six the day before.

The Standard Insurance juniors (Under-23) plum went to Carino while the MVP Sports Foundation top 17-18 year-old award was won by 7-Eleven's Jay Lampawog.

The race is presented by LBC and supported by major sponsors the Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation, Petron and Mitsubishi and minor sponors Cannondale, Standard Insurance, Tech1 Corp., Maynilad and NLEX and sanctioned by PhilCycling under Cavite Congressman Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino with TV5 and Sports Radio as media partners.

ASIAN CYCLING CHAMPIONSHIP BALER RAVINA BARNACHEA BURNHAM PARK CALAMBA-ATIMONAN STAGE TWO CAVITE CONGRESSMAN ABRAHAM CRIS JOVEN DAGUPAN-BAGUIO STAGE SIX DOMINIC PEREZ RONDA PILIPINAS STANDARD INSURANCE
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