The Philippines returns to its spot on the world cycling map anew tomorrow when the eighth edition of the Le Tour de Filipinas is flagged off from Legaspi City in Albay to Sorsogon.
The Le Tour de Filipinas is the only International Cycling Union (UCI) road race in the country and is the kick-off race of the Asia Tour season.
Tagaytay City Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, president of the national sports association for the sport, PhilCycling, acknowledged the importance of the race organized by Ube Media Inc. and presented by Air21.
“Again it is an honor for the country through the Le Tour de Filipinas to host this annual UCI-sanctioned race participated by international cyclists,” Tolentino said. “The race not only tests our Filipino riders but to watch the skills of the foreign cyclists and to promote tourism.”
This year also marks the second decade since the country hosted its first UCI race in 1996 when the local multi-stage road race was called the Marlboro Tour. Victor Espiritu won that foreign team-laced race as an amateur with Hongkong star Wong Kam Po winning the following year.
The Centennial Tour, aptly named to celebrate the country’s 100th year celebration of Independence Day in 1998, saw Warren Davadilla claiming the trophy. But that was to be the last of the Marlboro Tour era following the enforcement of anti-tobacco laws in sports and other advertising platforms.
All teams have been accounted for the race that has Petron and UPS as principal sponsors and Philippine Airlines as official airline partner in Legaspi City with the 75 cyclists warming up on the Albay capital’s roads with the majestic Mayon Volcano as backdrop.
Tomorrow, the cyclists will be flagged off at 8 a.m. by Ube Media President Donna May Lina, Legaspi City Mayor Noel Rosal, Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara and PhilCycling Chairman Bert Lina for the 164.49-km Legaspi City to Sorsogon Stage One.