FIFTEEN teams are all set for battle in the eighth running of the Le Tour de Filipinas firing off on Saturday.
The “Eighth’s Amazing” edition of the annual race that opens the International Cycling Union Asia Tour season traces a familiar route but this time northward bound.
Mark Galedo rides anew for 7-Eleven Roadbike Philippines as he tries to add to the title he won in 2014.
Frenchman Thomas Lebas is returning with Kinan Cycling Team hopeful of duplicating his success in 2015.
Interestingly, 7 Eleven Roadbike Philippines will race with four men, one less than the five-to-a-team lineup in the four-stage 728.59-kilometer race.
Joining Galedo on the team are former Asian Juniors road cycling bronze medalist Rustom Lim, RJ Peralta and Spain’s Edgar Nieto.
Also seeing action 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).
Young riders from the Philippine national team are also seeing action in the race starting with the 164.49-km Legaspi City to Sorsogon Stage One.
Stage Two is on Sunday, a 177.35-km race from Sorsogon to Daet Stage followed by a 177.35-km ride to Naga City and a 207.30-km race to Lucena City.
Coached by former Olympian Bert Oconer, the Philippine team is composed of George Oconer, John Renee Mier and Jerry Aquino Jr., all turning 25 years old; Mervin Corpus, only 20; and 25-year-old Boots Ryan Cayubit.
“The challenges of the Maharlika Highway in Bicol and Quezon province with the region’s scenic beauty as backdrop provides another perfect setting for the Le Tour de Filipinas,” said race organizer Donna May Lina, president of Ube Media Inc.
“The Le Tour de Filipinas is not all about cycling as a sport, but as importantly Ube Media Inc.’s contribution to sports tourism,” she added.
The race is presented by Air21, with Petron and UPS as principal sponsors, and backed by Philippine Airlines, Advanced Solutions Inc., Cargohaus Inc. CCN Sports Philippines, IWMI, NMM Customs Broker, Phenom Sportswear, UFL Philippines and WARM.