A CREW of young cyclists will ride with veteran Mark Galedo as he tries to claim back-to-back titles in Le Tour de Filipinas.
Galedo, the oldest rider on the PhilCycling national team at 29, will be backed by a team that includes Romald Lomotos, a 20-year-old rider ranked No. 267 in Asia, in the race that fires off on February 1.
Also riding with Galedo, the highest-ranked Filipino on the International Cycling Union Asia Tour rankings at No. 67, are George Oconer (No. 161), Incheon Asian Games veteran Ronald Oranza (No. 255) and Jun Rey Navarra, who are all 22 years old.
Galedo won Le Tour just months after bagging the Myanmar 2013 Southeast Asian Games individual road race gold.
“These young riders are the future of Philippine cycling,” said PhilCycling president and Tagaytay City Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, adding the riders are the country’s potential bets in the 2015 Asian Cycling Championships set February 10 to 14 in Thailand.
7-Eleven-Road Bike Philippines is also returning to the Le Tour, this time with a foreign rider. The team is composed of Filipino Cris Joven, Spain’s Edgar Nohales Nieto and Angel De Julian Vasquez and Kenny Nijssen of the Netherlands. The fifth member has yet to be named.
Twelve continental teams and two national squads aside from the Philippines are entered in Le Tour, inculuding Team Novo Nordisk of the US — the first professional cycling team composed of riders with Type 1 Diabetes.
Aldo vying for honors are Taiwan’s RTS Santic Racing Team and Attaque Team Gusto, Thailand’s Singha Infinite Cycling Team, Australia’s Navitas Satalyst Racing Team, Brunei’s CCN Cycling Team, Indonesia’s Pegasus Continental Cycling Team, Malaysia’s Terengganu Cycling Team and Japan’s Bridgestone Anchor Cycling Team.
Iran has two powerhouse continental teams Pishgaman Yzad Pro Cycling Team, which boasts of 2011 champion Rahim Emami, and Tabriz Petrochemical Team led by 2013 winner Ghader Mizbani and Asia’s No. 1 Mirsamad Poorseyediholakhour.
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are also fielding their national teams as they prepare for the Asian championships.
Le Tour de Filipinas kicks off the UCI’s Asia Tour 2015 calendar and marks 60 years of multi-stage road racing in the country. It starts on February 1 with the 126-km Balanga-Balanga (Bataan) Stage One, followed by the 153.75-km Balanga-Iba (Zambales) Stage Two, 149.34-km Iba-Lingayen (Pangasinan) Stage Three and the 101-km Lingayen-Baguio City Stage Four.
The 2015 Le Tour de Filipinas is presented by Air21, co-presented by the MVP Sports Foundation and Smart, organized by Ube Media, with Victory Liner, San Mig Zero, Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals Phils. and Canon as major sponsors.
It is also supported by the Philippine National Red Cross and the local governments of Balanga, Bataan; Iba, Zambales; Lingayen, Pangasinan; and Baguio City as well as the Bureau of Customs and Immigration, and the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Interior and Local Government, Health and Public Works and Highways and the Manila International Airport Authority and the Philippine National Police with Manila Bulletin, Philippine Star, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Business Mirror, MultiSport Magazine, Sports Digest, Hola! Magazine, Panahon TV, PTV Sports, dzSR Sports Radio, OrangeFix and GMA-7 as media partners and Isuzu, MAN Truck and Bus, Viking Rent-A-Car and NLEX as road partners.