MANILA, Philippines -- The cyclist with the strongest pair of legs backed by a team that could draw the best strategy in the climb in Stage Four would dominate the 2012 Le Tour de Filipinas.
According to Paquito Rivas, the 1979 Tour champion and one of the finest climbers the country has ever seen, described the 2012 Le Tour as a sprinter’s paradise in the first three stages, but come the final stage—a treacherous climb from Bayombong City to Baguio City via the Benguet backdoor—the men will be separated from the boys.
“Mahirap ang akyatin,” said Rivas, who continues to be called the Tour’s Eagle of the Mountain. “’Di gaya ng dati na sa Kennon Road ang akyat, dito magkakasubukan ng lakas sa lakas.”
Stage One on April 14 of the Le Tour presented by AIR21 in partnership with Smart and supported by Foton and Jinbei will be from Port Irene in Sta. Ana and will cover 155 kilometers (kms) up to the Tuguegarao City finish.
Stage Two on April 15 of the Tour also backed by WetShop (official wear), Airphil Express (official airline) and dzRH (official radio) will be 110 kms from Tuguegarao to Cauayan City, and Stage Three on April 16 will be a 102-km ride to Bayombong.
On April 17, the highlight Stage Four from Bayombong to the Burnham Park finish is 153 kms long. It will be raced over the Cordilleras with a picturesque mountainous backdrop, including the Ambuklao Dam and Luzon’s highest peak, Mt. Pulag. It consists of two King of the Mountain summits situated roughly 5,000 feet above sea level.
“Masasabak talaga ang ating mga siklista sa mga malalakas sa akyatin na mga foreigners,” added Rivas, whose Philippine National Cycling Association is again managing the race organized for the third straight year by the Dynamic Outsource Solutions, Inc.
Eleven foreign teams and five local squads make up the field in the 2012 Le Tour, which is the only international race in the country that is on the Asia Tour calendar of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). It is sanctioned by the PhilCycling headed by Tagaytay City Mayor Abraham Tolentino.
The local teams include Go21, Mail and More, Smart-PhilCycling, American Vinyl and Kia, while the foreign teams are TPT Cycling (Iran), Terenganu Cycling (Malaysia), Suren (Uzbekistan), Aisan Racing Team (Japan) Dutch Global (Netherlands), CCN (Chinese Taipei), OCBC (Singapore), Pure Black (New Zealand), Plan B (Australia), RTS/GiandKenda (Chinese Taipei) and Colossi Miche (Indonesia).
The Le Tour, also backed by Maynilad, Nague Malic Magnawa & Associates Customs Brokers, Wow Videoke, UBEMedia and IWMI, will have UCI international commissaire Omar Ibrahim of Malaysia as chief commissaire. He will be assisted by commissaries and officials of PhilCycling.