MANILA, Philippines – The champion team in the recently concluded 2012 Le Tour de Filipinas is aiming to compete in the Tour of Italy, the world's second most celebrated long-distance cycling race after the Tour de France.
The LPG-MA cycling squad, which emerged as the first-place team in the Le Tour de Filipinas, is looking to make it in international competitions including the Tour of Italy.
"We're very proud of our world-class cyclists. We are determined to help them take a crack at prestigious international competitions, including The Giro, or the Tour of Italy," team owner Rep. Arnel Ty said in a statement.
"We told our cyclists that right now, the Italian tour is just a dream. But if we're going to dream, we might as well dream big," he added.
The Giro is a long-distance, three-week road race for professional cyclists in and around Italy. It is one of the three Grand Tours along with the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España.
LPG-MA edged out 11 foreign squads and five local teams to top the 2012 Le Tour, and the squad's 19-year-old Rustom Lim also clinched the Young Rider Award.
The 2012 Le Tour is a 499-kilometer, four-stage Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) bikathon from Sta. Ana, Cagayan to Baguio City.
LPG-MA has been spending for the training of Lim and five other Filipino professional cyclists: Iris Valenzuela, Ronnel Hualda, Rudy Roque, Cris Joven and Edmundo Nicolas.
They are being coached by former two-time Tour of Luzon champion Rene Dolosa.
"Once the team earns enough points from its performance in UCI-sanctioned races, Liquigaz Philippines Corp. has agreed to sponsor the squad’s training in Rome for the Tour of Italy," Ty said.
"We Filipino have great potential to excel in international cycling competitions. Our fairly small body frame is perfect for cycling. Our weather is also conducive to intense physical conditioning," he added.
Ty said that Filipino cyclists may even find it advantageous to compete in Europe's cooler weather.