• Le Tour de Filipinas set Feb. 18 to 21

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    THE Le Tour de Filipinas, the only International Cycling Union (UCI) road race in the country, returns to Southern Luzon in 2017 with its eighth edition set from February 18 to 21.

    The UCI officially announced the Le Tour de Filipinas 2017 schedule during the UCI World Championships and Management Committee meeting in Doha, Qatar, in October.

    Race organizer Ube Media Inc. led by its President Donna Lina thanked the UCI and its president, Bryan Cookson, and the national federation for cycling, PhilCycling, headed by President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino and Chairman Alberto Lina, for again granting the country the chance to stage the race presented by Air21 for the eighth straight year.

    “It is with pride that we are again conducting the Le Tour de Filipinas, proof that the UCI and PhilCycling have continually bestowed their trust and confidence that our organization, Ube Media Inc., conforms to standards for an international road race,” Lina said.

    Lina said that for 2017, the Le Tour de Filipinas would carry the slogan “8’s Amazing” to emphasize on the race’s strong appeal as part of the UCI Asia Tour calendar.

    The four-stage race will practically cover the same route last year when 75 cyclists raced from Antipolo City to Lucena City in Quezon, to Daet in Camarines Norte and to Legaspi City with the majestic Mayon Volcano as backdrop.

    This early, three continental teams have already signified their intentions to participate in the race. The early birds included Bridgestone Anchor Cycling Team and Kinan Cycling Team, both registered in Japan, and Nice Cycling, an Indonesian-Swiss organization.

    Fifteen teams annually compete in the Le Tour de Filipinas. Last year, three local teams—continental team 7 Eleven-Sava Road Bike Philippines, Philippine National Team and club team Kopiko Cebu—competed against 12 foreign squads.

    Oleg Zemlyakov won last year’s Le Tour de Filipinas as a 22-year-old under the banner of Kazakhstan-registered Vino4ever Sko Cycling Team. Zemlyakov used the Le Tour de Filipinas to hone for the UCI Pro Team Astana, a regular in the “Big 3” of road races—Tour de France, Spanish Vuelta and Giro de Italia.

    Past champions of the Le Tour de Filipinas were Ireland’s David McCann (2010), Iran’s Rahim Emami (2011), Philippines’ Baler Ravina (2012), Iran’s Ghader Mizbani (2013), Philippines’ Mark Galedo (2014) and France’s Thomas Lebas (2015).

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