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Le Tour hits the road on Saturday

Fifteen teams with two former champions and the eight running of the Le Tour de Filipinas is good to go down south of Luzon anew on Saturday.

The “Eighth’s Amazing” edition of the annual race that opens the International Cycling Union Asia Tour season traces a familiar route but this time northward bound.

“The challenges of the Maharlika Highway in Bicol and Quezon province with the region’s scenic beauty as backdrop provides another perfect setting for the Le Tour de Filipinas,” race organizer Donna May Lina, president of Ube Media Inc., said.

“The Le Tour de Filipinas is not all about cycling as a sport, but as importantly Ube Media Inc.’s contribution to sports tourism,” she added.

Mark Galedo rides anew for 7 Eleven Roadbike Philippines as he tries to snatch a second crown to the one he won in 2014. Providing a tough challenge for the veteran Filipino is Frenchman Thomas Lebas, who is returning with Kinan Cycling Team hopeful of duplicating his success in 2015 in this year’s race again presented by Air21.

Interestingly, 7 Eleven Roadbike Philippines will race with four men, one less than the five-to-a-team lineup in the four-stage 728.59-kilometer race that has Petron and UPS as principal sponsors and Philippine Airlines as official airline partner.

Joining Galedo on the team are former Asian Juniors road cycling bronze medalist Rustom Lim, RJ Peralta and Spain’s Edgar Nieto.

A young Philippine national team is also on the roster of the race backed by Advanced Solutions Inc., Cargohaus Inc. CCN Sports Philippines, IWMI, NMM Customs Broker, Phenom Sportswear, UFL Philippines and WARM.

Coached by former Olympian Bert Oconer, the team is composed of George Oconer, John Renee Mier and Jerry Aquino Jr., all turning 25 years old; 25-year-old Boots Ryan Cayubit and Mervin Corpus, only 20.