THE 13 foreign teams vying in the 2015 Le Tour de Filipinas were all accounted for in Bataan’s capital of Balanga Friday, two days before the sixth edition of the race celebrating 60 years of multi-stage road cycling in the Philippines gets going.
The foreigners will be joining two local squads -- the Philippine National Men’s Team of the PhilCycling and the continental team 7-Eleven Road Bike Philippines -- in the four-stage International Cycling Union Asia Tour race presented by Air21 and co-presented by the MVP Sports Foundation and Smart.
“The enthusiasm of the foreigners in racing on Philippine soil was very evident as the teams which arrived before lunch in Balanga hit the road immediately and shook off the rust from their travel,” said Donna Lina-Flavier, president of race organizer Ube Media Inc.
The foreign teams which have checked in for the race also supported by Victory Liner, San Mig Zero, Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals Phils. and Canon are Team Novo Nordisk (USA), RTS Santic Racing Team (Taiwan), Attaque Team Gusto (Taiwan), Singha Infinite Cycling Team (Thailand), Navitas Satalyst Racing Team (Australia), and CCN Cycling Team (Brunei).
Completing the cast are Pegasus Continental Cycling Team (Indonesia), Terengganu Cycling Team (Malaysia), Bridgestone Anchor Cycling Team (Japan), Pishgaman Yzad Pro Cycling Team (Iran), Tabriz Petrochemical Team (Iran), and the national teams of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
Stage One of the event which hit Sunday, has Isuzu, MAN Truck and Bus, Viking Rent-A-Car and NLEX as road partners will be an out-and-back race in Balanga covering 126 kilometers.
On Monday, the race goes up north to Iba, Zambales, for the 153.75-km Stage Two. On Tuesday, it will be the 149.34-km Iba to Lingayen (Pangasinan) Stage Three, and on Wednesday, the final stage will finish in Baguio City in front of the Baguio City Convention Center -- a 101-km grind via Kennon Road.
The Philippines’ No. 1 road racer, Mark John Lexer Galedo, will be defending his general classification title wearing the national team colors against a formidable field that includes three former champions -- Filipino Baler Ravina (2012 titlist of 7-Eleven Road Bike Philippines) and Iranians Ghader Mizbani (2013, Tabriz Petrochemical Team) and Rahim Emami (2011, Pishgaman Yzad Pro Cycling Team). Emami also has as teammate Asia’s No. 1 Mirsamad Poorseyediholakhour.