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    Ronda star George Oconer motivated to chase a dream that proved elusive for his dad

    Dec 15, 2016
    After topping the two Ronda qualifiers, George Oconer is looking to top the multi-stage classic in February to honor his dad, veteran internationalist Norberto Oconer. Snow Badua

    GEORGE Oconer gets another chance to achieve a family dream after ruling the Luzon and Visayas qualifying for the Ronda Pilipinas.

    Son of two-time Olympian Norberto Oconer, who never topped the Marlboro Tour in the country in his prime in the 80s, George now looks to claim victory in his own multi-stage race as he sees action in the national finals of the Ronda.

    “Wala po sa akin itong qualifying na ito. Parang try-out lang ito. Gusto ko po manalong Ronda mismo, kasi yun po ang pangarap ng pamilya namin,” said the 24 year old rider.

    “Yan din po kasi ang pinangako ko sa papa ko eversince nagsimula ako ng professional cycling. Hindi kasi nag-champion ang father ko sa Tour nuong araw,” he added.

    George himself has done fine in international meets, and has posted a sixth-place finish in the Asian Cycling Championships in 2012.

    However, he has failed to make an impact riding for the LBC squad for the past two years, but is confident he now has what it takes to claim the overall title as he rides for the Go For Gold team.

    He topped the two qualifiers in Subic and in Bacolod to back his title credentials.

    “Yun po ang gusto kong mangyari, ang makabawi para sa sarili ko at pamilya ko, syempre para sa bansa na rin natin,” he said.

    “Hindi na po ako tulad ng dati na banat lang ng banat. Natutunan ko pong magpasensya sa daan at gamitin ang utak sa laro. Madalas po kasi ako ma-frustrate nuong araw, binibira ko nang binibira. Sa bandang huli, kinakapos ako,” he said.

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    Oconer will be up against 95 other riders, half of them newcomers, in Ronda Pilipinas 2017 firing off on February 4 in Ilocos Norte.

    He knows it won't be easy.

    “Mabigat po ang laban dun, maraming bago. Maraming nakuha mula sa Visayas at Mindanao, hindi lang dito sa Luzon,” he said.

    “Dati kasi madali mo masusukat ang mga kalaban mo dahil kilala mo na sila, ngayon hindi ganun. Hindi mo alam ang kakayahan ng mga karibal mo, kung pang sprint ba o pang bundok sila. Kaya as much as possible, sa umpisa pa lang sumibat ka na. Mag ipon ka na ng distansya,” said Oconer.

    Cycling analyst and Ronda Pilipinas chief judge Froi Dayco said veteran riders need to be wary of the young blood.

    “Yung unknown riders lagi, mahirap kapain yan eh. May mga siklista na galing pa from the provinces, hindi natin alam ang kalidad ng mga yun, baka may surprises,” said Dayco.

    “May basehan yung sinasabi nya (Oconer). He knows where he is talking, kasi galing siya dun. Dati unknown din siya eh except for being the son of Bert. Pag ganun kasi hindi ka ginaganalang, pero nanggulat siya,” he added.

    Dayco noted newly-discovered riders are more motivated to prove themselves.

    “Sa history ng cycling, madalas ang mga bago ang biglang nag cha-champion. Say for example Victor Espiritu in 1996, rookie siya pero nag champion. Romeo Bonzo also did that in 1983. In 2014 it happened again sa Ronda, Riemon Lapaza surprised John Mark Galedo in the penultimate stage,” he added.

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    Dayco also hopes that Ronda Pilipinas will continue to improve and develop so they can discover more raw talents from the provinces, which is badly needed to inject lifeblood to Philippine cycling.

    “Sana ipagpatuloy pa nila (Ronda officials) ang paggabay sa karera and I hope they step up their programs. Sana mas marami pang pumasok na sponsor. Cycling is one sport na talagang pang masa. Maraming sumusubaybay niyan sa mga probinsya, mas marami ang mga nasa baryo at probinsya kesa mga nasa syudad, tandaan nyo yan,” said Dayco. 

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    After topping the two Ronda qualifiers, George Oconer is looking to top the multi-stage classic in February to honor his dad, veteran internationalist Norberto Oconer. Snow Badua
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