THREE local teams battle 12 international squads as the 7th Le Tour de Pilipinas goes to Southern Luzon and Bicol Region for the first time beginning on February 18 in Antipolo City.
The Philippine national team, 7-Eleven Road Bike Philippines, and the Kopiko Cebu Cycling Team will compete against a foreign field led by defending champion Bridgestone Anchor Cycling Team of Japan.
Stage One will see the 75 riders battle in a 153-kilometer race from Antipolo City to Lucena City on February 18.
Stage Two will be from Lucena City to Daet, Camarines Norte, a 204-kilometer ride.
Stage Three is from Daet to Legazpi City which will have a length of 187 kilometers, while Stage Four will be an out-and-back route in Legazpi City going around Mayon Volcano.
Team Ukyo of Japan, Global Cycling Team of Holland, Attaque Team Gusto of Taiwan, Black Inc. Cycling Team of Laos, Team Novo Nordisk of United States, Terangganu Cycling Team of Malaysia, LX IIBS Cycling Team of South Korea, Korail Cycling Continental Team of South Korea, Minsk Cycling Team of Belarus, Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team of United Arab Emirates, and Team Sauerland p/b Henley & Partners of Germany are also seeing action.
Donna May Lina, head of the organizing Ube Media Inc., said she is happy with the field after 28 continental and club teams expressed intention to participate.
“The clamor of foreign teams to race in the country has grown each year that we have to turn down many of them,” said Lina.
Frenchman Thomas Lebas will returning for another crown in the general classification after ruling the 2015 edition, beating 2014 titlist Mark Galedo.
"This tour is going nowhere but up so we express our great gratitude to Air21 for organizing the event," said Philcycling secretary general Avelino Sumagui.
The course will be relatively flat but will also challenge riders on the climbs at Bugarin, Rizal and the tough Eme in Atimonan, Quezon in the race sanctioned by cycling’s governing body Union Cycliste Internationale, organized by Ube Media Inc., presented by Air21 chaired by Bert Lina, and sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation, Smart, Petron, Phenom Athletic Apparel, S-Link, and Novo Nordisk, and supported by Collab, Rainforest Natural Mineral Water, Prudential Guarantee, NMM, and UFL.