LEGAZPI CITY — Mark Galedo and Rustom Lim vie for top honors as the 2017 Le Tour de Filipinas fires off on Saturday morning in this city overlooking the lovely Mayon Volcano.
Coming off respectable results in international stages, Galedo and Lim look to win the only Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)-sanctioned race in the country sponsored by Air21.
Galedo, the only Filipino thus far to win the international race in 2014, and Lim competed in the Herald Sun Tour for 7-Eleven Sava BRP in Australia where the two went toe-to-toe with two-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome in one of the stages.
Also looking to win the Le Tour are members of the Go for Gold-Philippine National Team of George Oconer, John Renee Mier, Jerry Aquino, Mervin Corpuz, and World University Games medalist Ryan Cayubit.
Go for Gold team manager Noberto Oconer said the national riders have also been training in Jala Jala, Rizal and on the mountain ranges of the Sierra Madre, determined to bring honor and glory to the country in the Le Tour.
“Talagang para sa bayan ‘yan kasi eto lang ang karera na sanctioned ng UCI,” said Oconer.
The eighth edition of Le Tour begins with Stage One from Legazpi City to Sorsogon where riders will be flagged off at 8 a.m. and will negotiate 164.50 kilometers, including one King of the Mountain in Irosin.
Weather, however, could be a factor in Stage One as rains pelted the city since Friday.
Foreign continental teams in this year’s Le Tour are Team Ikyo (Japan), Bridgrestone Anchor Cycling Team (Japan), Oliver’s Real Food Racing (Australia), Terengganu Cycling Team (Malaysia), LX Pro Cycling Team (South Korea), Uzbekistan National Team, CCN Cycling Team (Laos), Keyi Look Sport Cycling Team (China), United Arab Emirates National Team, Attaque Team Gusto (Chinese Taipei) and Sapura Cycling Team (Malaysia).
Kinan Cycling Team’s Thomas Lebas, the 2015 champion, is entered this year as he will look to bounce back after crashing out from last year’s edition.