Fifth Le Tour de Filipinas brings riders to expressways
MANILA, Philippines - Le Tour De Filipinas will send around 80 local and international riders to some of the most advanced and modern highways in the country in its fifth edition, which takes off on April 21-24.
The race will span the 616 kilometers between Clark Field, Pampanga and the summer capital Baguio City with a total of P744,300.00 prize money at stake.
Fifteen teams will vie for the 2014 title, racing through the four stages in the only Union Cycliste Internationale-sanctioned roadrace in the country, dubbed as the Triple-X Stage.
The race also serves as the qualifiers for the Filipinos to the next Asian Championship.
"They are the cream of the crop of local cycling. We are very hopeful na manalo sila. Dapat manalo sila dahil teritoryo nila ito eh," race presenter Air21 owner Bert Lina told reporters in a press conference, March 19, at the Manila Hotel.
(We are very hopeful they will win. They should win because it's their territory.)
Unlike last year in which Le Tour kicked off in the northern tip of Luzon in Bangui, Ilocos Norte, traversing municipal roads in Regions 1, 2, and Cordillera, the 2014 edition will take the cyclists through the scenic plains of Central Luzon, passing through the North Luzon, Subic-Clark-Tarlac, and the newly opened Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union expressways.
Local bets from the two Philippine teams, 7-Eleven Road Bike Cycling Team and Philippine Navy Standard Insurance Cycling Team will try to bounce back but they expect a tougher race this time as the Iranians -- who won two of the last three Le Tours -- will try to annex another title while other foreign contenders like Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Australia, Singapore, and Ireland will want to make life difficult for the rest of the competition.
Brunei's CCN Cycling Team, Ireland's Polygon Sweet Nice, and Attila Cycling Club from Mongolia make their return to Le Tour this year while Satalyst Giant Racing Team from Australia, Indonesia's Pegasus Continental Team, Iran's TSR Continental Team, Japan's Asian Ukyo and Asian Racing Team, Kazakhstan's Track Team Astana and Kazakhstan National Cycling Team, Terengganu Pro Asia Cycling Team of Malaysia, OCBC Singapore Continental Cycling Team and UAE Cycling Team complete the cast this year
The Filipinos last won two years ago when Baler Ravina bested the 2012 edition but UCI rules limit the number of Filipino teams to only two from five local squads last year.
In this edition, the race will kickoff in Clark Zone, Pampanga with the first day concluding in Olongapo City, Zambales after 152.9 kilometers. The second stage spans the 182.5-kilometer-long scorching highways between Olongapo and Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija while the third stage will bring the riders to Region 2 ending after a 146.6-kilometer uphill stage in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.
The final but the hardest stage will snake through the mountain ranges of Cordillera, popularly known as the "Northern Alps" and will conclude in Baguio City after 134 kilometers of steep climbs and sharp curves for the closing ceremonies.
For the second straight year, Rappler is a media partner of the Le Tour de Filipinas, which is presented by Air21 in partnership with Smart, Victory Liner, NLEX, SCTEX, TPLEX, and Terry Larrazabal Bike Festival. - Rappler.com