MANILA, Philippines – El Joshua Cariño will defend his title as a rider for the Philippine national team when the 10th edition of the Le Tour de Filipinas gets underway on June 14 to 18.
Cariño won last year's race as part of Philippine Navy-Standard Insurance (PNSI), becoming the third Filipino champion of the International Cycling Union race. He followed in the footsteps of Baler Ravina (2012) and Mark John Lexer Galedo (2014).
This year, PNSI team owner Ernesto "Judes" Echauz agreed to have his team race for flag and country, as part of the national riders' preparation for the 30th Southeast Asian Games in December.
Joining Cariño in the Le Tour that has been elevated by organizer Ube Media Inc. to a five-stage Category 2.2 event are fellow veterans Jan Paul Morales, Ronald Oranza, Junrey Navarra and Jhon Mark Camingao.
The other national team members, meanwhile, will be racing for their mother clubs, including Felipe Marcelo of 7-Eleven Roadbike Philippines-Air21 (continental) and last year's Le Tour Best Young Rider and Cariño's younger brother, Daniel Ven Cariño, of Go For Gold (continental).
Bike X Philippines is the fourth local squad that will be facing a tough challenge from 11 foreign teams, almost all of which are UCI continental teams. Five riders are racing for each of the teams.
The Le Tour kicks off on June 14 with a short yet demanding 129.50-km Stage 1 on an out-and-back course marked with several climbs in Tagaytay City. The tour entourage transfers to Lucena City in Quezon Province where the cyclists will spend the night before Stage Two on June 15 that will be a long 194.90 kms from Pagbilao to Daet in Camarines, Norte.
Stage Three on June 16 will be 183.70 kms from Daet to Legazpi City and Stage Four will cover 176.00 kms from Legaspi City via Sorsogon and Gubat and back to the Albay capital.
Stage Five 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.
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