MANILA, Philippines – Eighty grizzled veterans of local and international races will answer the starting gun for the 2012 Le Tour de Filipinas in the coastal Cagayan town of Sta. Ana on Saturday.
Stage 1 of the 4-stage cycling extravaganza begins at 8:30 am with Cagayan Rep. Jackie Enrile firing the gun alongside Air21 chairman and cycling godfather Bert Lina and wife Sylvia Lina, as well as organizer Gary Cayton of the Dynamic Outsource Solutions, Inc.
“It’s race time,” said Lina, who flew in Friday afternoon and joined the welcome ceremonies and dinner prepared by Enrile for the close to 400 strong Le Tour entourage last night.
From Sta. Ana, the riders representing 16 teams—11 international and 5 local—will pedal 159.08 kilometers to the capital City of Tuguegarao.
The route is relatively flat, but the riders will be scraping through warm temperature which by mid-morning is expected to be in the mid-30s degrees Centigrade.
“The heat could spell the difference and our local riders could have the slight advantage,” said Cayton. “But we just could not dismiss the endurance of the foreigners, they are a bunch who have seen tough and enduring races overseas.”
Stage 2 of the Le Tour presented by Air21 will again be on flat roads—103.3 km to Cauayan City in Isabela—while Stage Three—104 km from Cauayan to Bayombong City in Nueva Viscaya—on Monday is characterized by as relatively flat with one King of the Mountain summit.
Come Stage Four on Tuesday and the extremely strong and willing climbers will take centerstage. The stage from Bayombong will bring the riders to an uphill grind over the Cordilleras—with two KOM summits—in what would be called the country’s very own “Northern Alps."
The foreign teams on the 2012 Le Tour, also supported by official wear Wet Shop, Maynilad, Nague Malic Magnawa & Associates Customs Brokers, Wow Videoke, UBEMedia, IWMI, Airphil Express and dzRH include continental teams CCN (Netherlands), Aisan Racing Team (Japan), OCBC (Singapore), Suren (Uzbekistan), Action (Chinese Taipei) and TPT or Tabriz Petrochemical (Iran), and club teams Plan B (Australia), PureBlack Racing (New Zealand) and Colossi Miche (Indonesia) and the Indonesian national squad.
The local challenge will come from Go21, Mail & More, Smart-PhilCycling National Team, LPGMA-American Vinyl and Kia.
Le Tour will be held in partnership with Smart and supported by Foton and Jinbei.