A tougher challenge awaits local cyclists as Ronda Pilipinas will feature foreign riders for the first time this year.
The 14-stage Ronda Pilipinas fires off on February 1 and will cover a total of 1,776 kilometers.
The race starts with a 66-kilometer criterium race at the Quezon City Memorial Circle followed by the 156.7-km Stage Two from Muntinlupa to Silang, Cavite.
Defending champion Irish Valenzuela and Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Mark Galedo head the local riders that will battle foreign teams including Global Cycling Team Holland, the Malaysian national team, Matrix Powertag of Japan, Team Gusto of Chinese Taipei, Ayandeh Continental Team of Iran, CNN Cycling Team of Thailand and the Uzbekistan national team.
Stage Three on February 3 will cover 135.9km from Tagaytay City to San Pablo City, followed by the 103.7km Stage Four from San Pablo to Lucena and the 148.2km Stage Five around Lucena before the cyclists take a one-day break.
The pack rides from Lucena to Antipolo in Stage Six on February 7 (155.1km), followed by a 172km ride from Valenzuela to Tarlac in Stage Seven, a 182.2km race from Tarlac to Dagupan City in Stage Eight, and a 97.4km ride from Dagupan to Baguio City via Kennon Road in Stage Nine before another rest day.
The race resumes February 12 with the Baguio Criteruim Stage 10 (72.9km) followed by the 98km San Fernando, La Union to Baguio Stage 11 via Marcos Highway, Stage 12 from Agoo to Angeles City (182km), Stage 13 from Angeles to Subic (146km) and the 60km criterium finale in Metro Manila on February 16.