FROM picturesque Taal to majestic Mayon, the Le Tour de Filipinas celebrates “10 Years of Cycling” with an explosive race starting with Stage 1 of the now five-stage International Cycling Union (UCI) event starting on Friday.
Two of the Philippines’ iconic tourist attractions—Taal Volcano and Mount Mayon—serve as backdrop for the kick off stage and the coronation ride come Stage 5 on Tuesday in Legazpi City.
“What a way to celebrate a decade of Le Tour de Filipinas—by showcasing the best of the Philippines,” Donna Lina, chairman of the Le Tour de Filipinas, said.
The Le Tour de Filipinas kick off stage in 2009 was in the very same route for the 2019 edition—the hilly roads in and around Tagaytay City and Batangas. Irishman David McCann won the inaugurals of the race that has become the forerunner of UCI-calendared Philippine races to date.
Fourteen teams are seeing action in the 10th edition led by the Philippine National Team of defending champion El Joshua Carino, who won last year—the third Filipino champion of the race—with Philippine Navy Standard Insurance.
Marcelo Felipe, winner of a previous UCI race in Subic, powers 7-Eleven Cliqq-Air21 By Roadbike Philippines while Best Young Rider in 2018, Daniel Ven Carino, banners Go For Gold.
Mark John Lexer Galedo, the 2014 winner, will be riding for Celeste Cycle, while Michael Angelo Ochoa will spearhead Bike X Philippines.
The foreign field in the race—which is expected to be flagged off for Stage 1 by Tagaytay City Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino and Mayor Agnes Tolentino—was reduced to nine following the last-minute withdrawal of the Hongkong National Team.
Out to challenge the Filipino teams are Nex Cycling Team (Singapore), PGN Road Cycling Team (Indonesia), Oliver’s Real Food Racing (Australia), Terrenganu Cycling Team (Malaysia), Taiyuan Moigee Cycling Team (China), Team Nero Bianchi (Australia), Team Ukyo (Japan), Team Sapura Cycling and Thailand National Team.
To mark a decade of racing, organizer Ube Media Inc., headed by President Donna Lina, has modified the colors of the jerseys for the various categories.
From the traditional yellow, the general classification jersey is now the Air21 Purple Jersey, the polka dot has become the NMM Blue Jersey for the King of the Mountain, the green is now the Cargohaus Orange Jersey for Points Classification, the white jersey is now the Ufreight Red Jersey for the Best Young Rider and the then purple is now the SPL Pink Jersey for the Best Filipino Rider.
Friday’s kickoff Stage 1 is a short and demanding 129.50-km Stage 1 on an out-and-back course in Tagaytay City, followed by the 194.90-km Stage Two on Saturday 15 from Pagbilao in Quezon to Daet in Camarines, Norte.
Stage Three on Sunday will be 183.70 kms from Daet to Legazpi City and Stage Four will cover 176.00 kms from Legazpi City via Sorsogon and Gubat and back to the Albay capital.
Stage Five on Tuesday will also be out-and-back in Legazpi City but this time it will be via Donsol in Sorsogon for a total of 145.80 kms—a crucial final leg where the cyclists will have to endure pedaling over rolling hills and strong winds.