French rider Thomas Lebas will be back to defend his crown in the 2016 Le Tour de Filipinas scheduled on February 18 to 21 from Antipolo City to Legazpi City.
Lebas will spearhead the Japan-based Bridgestone Anchor Cycling Team along with Damien Monier, Sho Hatsuyama, Kohei Uchima and Ryu Suzuki in the tournament sanctioned by the International Cycling Union.
A total of 15 teams will be participating this year including three local squads—Philippine National Team, 7-Eleven Road Bike Philippines and Kopiko Cube Cycling Team.
The other competing teams are Team Ukyo (Japan), Global Cycling Team (Holland), Attaque Team Gusto (Taiwan), Black Inc. Cycling Team (Laos), Team Novo Nordisk (US), Terangganu Cycling Team (Malaysia), LX IIBS (South Korea), Korail Cycling Continental Team (South Korea), Minsk Cycling Team (Belarus), Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team (United Arab Emirates) and Team Sauerland P/B Henley & Partners (Germany).
“The clamor of foreign teams to race in the country has grown each year that we have to turn down may of them. And this time, we decided to bring world-class road cycling to the fans and enthusiasts south of Luzon,” said Donna May Lina of the organizing team Ube Media Inc.
The Stage 1 cover a 153-kilometer race from Antipolo City to Lucena City in Quezon followed by the Stage 2 from Lucena City to Daet, Camarines Norte; Stage 3 from Daet to Legazpi City; and Stage 4 in Legazpi City that will feature the majestic Mayon Volcano.
Leading the Philippine National Team campaign are Ronald Oranza, John Mark Camingao, George Oconer, Ronald Lomotos and Jay Lampawog.
EMIL C. NOGUERA