BALER RAVINA opens his quest for a second Le Tour de Filipinas crown as the country’s only race sanctioned by the International Cycling Union (UCI) unfurls its fifth edition today in Clark, Pampanga.
The grizzled veteran from Asingan, Pangasinan, vowed to duplicate his championship feat in 2012 although the soft-spoken certified climber only hinted about his strategy—to stun everyone with another remarkable ride in the decisive Stage Four over the Cordilleras in Benguet on Thursday.
“I will again try my best to become champion again. Me and my team have prepared hard for the Le Tour and we hope to come out strong again,” said Ravina, of the continental team 7-Eleven Road Bike Philippines, where he is teammate with a two-time local Tour champion Mark Galedo.
Philippine Navy-Standard Insurance’s Santy Barnachea, also a two-time winner of the local Tour, promised to do the same. “We are ready and we will try our best to fend off the foreigners.”
The field in the race presented by Air21 and supported by Smart, North Luzon Expressway, Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, Bcda, Petron, Victory Liner and M. Lhuillier is composed of 15 teams—13 foreign and two locals. Each team is composed of five riders.
Nine of the foreign teams are International Cycling Union continental (professional) squads— Aisan Racing Team and Team Uyko of Japan, KSPO Cycling Team of Korea, PT Pegasus Cycling Team of Indonesia, Terengganu Cycling Team of Malaysia, CCN Cycling Team of Brunei, OCBC Cycling Team of Singapore, Polygon Sweet Nice of Ireland and Tabriz Shahrdari Ranking of Iran.
The rest are club teams—Atilla Cycling Club of Mongolia, Satalyst Giant Racing Team of Australia and Track Team Astana of Kazakhstan—while the United Arab Emirates sent its national squad.