Punishing heat a major concern as foreign riders arrive for Le Tour

RIDERS from Hong Kong-based Team Direct Asia planed in on Monday and three other foreign squads arrived in midweek to acclimatize, while other teams came in Thursday, just two days before the fourth edition of the Le Tour de Filipinas kicks off Saturday in Bangui, Ilocos Norte.

Arriving on Wednesday at enchanting Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte were continental team Polygon Sweet Nice of Malaysia and club teams Perth Cycling of Australia and Korail Cycling Team of Korea.

Continental team OSBC Singapore arrived on Thursday along with Terrenganu Cycling of Malaysia, CCN Cycling Team of Taiwan and Tabriz Petrochemical of Iran and Atilla Cycling Club of Mongolia.

Several key riders of Ayandeh Continental are nursing injuries, forcing the continental team based in Uzbekistan to withdraw at the last minute.

Race manager Paquito Rivas, a former Tour of the Philippines champion and Eagle of the Mountain, said the heat — temperature readings in Northern Luzon were recorded at an extreme 39 degrees Celsius the past few days — will make the International Cycling Union (UCI) Asia Tour race presented by Air21 in partnership with San Miguel Corp. and Smart even tougher.

The tour starts with a 175.5-km stage from Bangui to Aparri in Cagayan, tomorrow, followed by a 196-km ride to Cauayan in Isabela, a 104-km cruise to Bayombong in Nueva Vizcaya and the final stage, a 133.5-km race from Bayombong to Baguio City.

“It’s not getting any cooler. That is why not only the strong sprinters and climbers will be having an advantage, but also the riders who are used to these high temperatures,” said Rivas, currently a director of PhilCycling.

The local teams — continental squads LBC-MVPSF Cycling Pilipinas and Team 7-Eleven-Roadbike Philippines and Navy-Standard Insurance, Marines-Standard Insurance and American Vinyl — also arrived in Pagudpud on Thursday.

A welcome ceremony and dinner is scheduled on Friday night in Pagudpud in the four-day race sponsored by Standard Insurance, Jinbei, Victory Liner, San Mig Coffee, Magnolia Purewater, Red Media, Foton, Maynilad, Kia, Sign Media, Integrated Waste Management Inc., Eurotel, American Vinyl, LBC and 7-Eleven.

Expected at the ceremonies are PhilCycling chairman Bert Lina and president Abraham Tolentino and Le Tour organizer Gary Cayton of Dymanic Outsource Solutions, Inc.

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