RIDERS from Australia’s Oliver’s Real Food Racing arrived in Legazpi City yesterday for the eighth Le Tour de Filipinas which kicks off on Saturday.
Oliver’s Food, a returnee to the race presented anew by Air21, is a club team composed of young elite riders who will vie against cyclists from 12 continental teams and three national squads.
Due today, Thursday, in the Albay capital where Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rasal and Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara have prepared a warm welcome are the rest of the field competing in the International Cycling Union Category 2.2 race that will be ran over four stages.
“The riders of the different teams either come in as an entire team or from their respective countries of origin,” said Donna May Lina, president of race organizer Ube Media Inc. “We expect cyclists of close to 20 nationalities to compete this year.”
Stage 1 of the race that has Petron and UPS as principal sponsors and Philippine Airlines as official airline partner is set over a 164.49-km route from Legazpi City to Sorsogon.
On Sunday, the 75 cyclists (five riders to a team) tackle the 177.35-km Sorsogon-Daet Stage 2 of the Asia Tour event race backed by Advanced Solutions Inc., Cargohaus Inc. CCN Sports Philippines, IWMI, NMM Customs Broker, Phenom Sportswear, UFL Philippines and WARM.
The 177.35-km Daet-Naga City Stage 3 will be on Monday and the race wraps up with the 207.30-km Naga City-Lucena City Stage 4 on Tuesday.
Mark Galedo, the 2014 champion, and Rustom Lim lead Philippine continental team 7 Eleven Roadbike Philippine’s charge while George Oconer Jr. and Jerry Aquino Jr., sons of former Olympian Bert Oconer and Tour veteran Jerry Sr., respectively, will head the Philippine National Team in the event that aptly carries the theme “Eight’s Amazing” for its eighth edition.
A rider to watch will be 2015 champion Frenchman Thomas Lebas of Kinan Cycling Team (Japan), one of several continental teams which have made the Le Tour de Filipinas a traditional kick off to the new cycling season.
The other teams are Team Ukyo (Japan), Bridgrestone Anchor Cycling Team (Japan), Terengganu Cycling Team (Malaysia), LX Pro Cycling Team (South Korea), Uzbekistan National Team, CCN Cycling Team (Laos), Keyi Look Sport Cycling Team (China), United Arab Emirates National Team, Attaque Team Gusto (Chinese Taipei), Kuwait Cartucho.ES (Kuwait) and Sapura Cycling Team (Malaysia).