LE Tour de Filipinas (LtDF) breaks decades of summer tradition but returns to a familiar and historic culminating stage as it holds its sixth edition in 2015, highlighting 60 years of the Tour in the country.
From the traditional schedule that made the Tour the country’s summer sports spectacle on wheels for two generations, the 2015 LtDF kicks off February 1 and ends February 4 again atop the Cordilleras at the Burnham Park in Baguio City.
But this time, the expected field of 75 riders from 15 teams heavily laced with continental and international squads and clubs will try to conquer the picturesque Kennon Road — a short but treacherous 18-km climb that wrote many a classic and fabled stories in Philippine cycling history.
Cycling’s world governing body Union Cycliste Internationale scheduled the LtDF in February to conform with the Asian Tour calendar.
“We are going back to the Tour’s signature stage that frustrated numerous pretenders but paved pedestals for dozens of champions who have gone down history as our heroes on two wheels,” said LtDF chairman Alberto Lina.
“This is aptly a celebration of the Tour’s 60th anniversary and all these cyclists — local and foreign — deserve a chance to etch their names in diamond,” added Lina, also the chairman and president of Air21, the leading logistics company that was key to the Tour’s revival 12 years ago.
Stage One on will be an out-and-back 126-km Balanga-Balanga ride over Bataan’s mountains that are known in history as the site of bloody battles during World War II. Stage Two takes riders from Balanga to Iba, the Zambales capital, where sprinters are expected to have a field day on a 153.75-km route.
Stage Three will be a similarly relatively flat 149.34-km race from Iba to Lingayen and its pristine beaches of Pangasinan off the West Philippine Sea.
The riders then then pedal from Lingayen first over flat roads in Pangasinan and La Union before taking the challenge of the Cordilleras on Kennon Road, a route that covers 101 km.
The Tour was first held in 1954 through the Manila-Vigan race with the late Antonio Arzala emerging as the inaugural champion.