Same route but different challenge awaits top cycling teams when they compete in the 8th Le Tour de Filipinas set to roll off on February 18 in Legazpi City, Albay.
Seventy-five cyclists from 13 foreign teams and two local squads will test their mettle in the 726.55 kilometers, four-stage circuit race.
“It is nice to go back to a place where we really feel the warm welcome,” said Donna May Lina, President of UBE Media Inc., the organizer of the race in a news conference on Tuesday at the Palacio de Maynila in Roxas Boulevard.
Lina said this year’s race is more technical because of the gradual ascent from Sorsogon to Lucena City.
Stage 1 of the race covers 164.5 kms from Legazpi City to Sorsogon City, Stage 2 is a 177.35km technical ride from Sorsogon to Naga City, Stage 3 is a 177.35km relatively flatland race from Naga City to Daet, Camarines Norte, while Stage 4 is the longest at 207.35 kms from Daet to Lucena, Quezon.
Two teams will represent the Philippines namely 7-Eleven Sava Road Bike Philippines and the PhilCycling National team.
“We are banking on the home court advantage. [This competition] is a great avenue to benchmark other cyclists in the team. I am very confident with our national team,” said Lina.
Defending champion Oleg Zemlyakov and his Vino Forever Team from Kazakhstan are not returning to defend the general classification crown after moving up the UCI Road ladder last year.
The other foreign teams competing are Oliver’s Real Food Racing (Australia), Keyi Look Sport (China), Attaque Team Gusto (Chinese Taipei), Kinan Cycling, Team Ukyo and Bridgestone Anchor Cycling Team (Japan), Cartucho.Es Pro Cycling (Kuwait), CCN Cycling Team (Laos), Terenganu Cycling (Malaysia), LX Pro Cycling and Korail Cycling Team (South Korea), Nice Cycling (Switzerland) and Uzbekistan National Team.
The 2015 champion Thomas Lebas of France is listed under Kinan Cycling Team.