The Tagaytay City climb and the winding roads leading to and from Donsol in Sorsogon are bound to test how well the 75 cyclists could adopt quickly and strongly to technical rides in the Le Tour de Filipinas that celebrates its 10th year from June 14 to 18.
Stage One of the Le Tour de Filipinas on June 14 starts and ends in Tagaytay City but its not picturesque Taal Volcano that provides glitter to the race, but the descent from the Praying Hands monument on Aguinaldo Highway and the climb in Barangay Sampaloc in Talisay town that provides the challenge.
The stage could be short at 129.50 kms but for Paquito Rivas, the tour’s race manager and owner of the moniker Eagle of the Mountain, said the kick off would sap the most out of the cyclists.
“It may be short but the riders have to ride a tactical race,” said Rivas, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Philippine Sportswriters Association.
There are five stages this time in the International Cycling Union Category 2.2 event founded by PhilCycling chairman Bert Lina to celebrate a decade of racing. And Stage Five on June 18 is as crucial as the first in Tagaytay.
Covering 145.80 kms, the riders will be flagged off from Legaspi City and will pass through Donsol that is made famous by the butanding.
The whale sharks are famous for being amiable to humans, but the route at Luzon’s southern tip could be brutal to the cyclists.
“The climbs may not be that tough in gradient but in local parlance, they are called ‘makunat,’ meaning the rider will have to suffer,” Rivas said.
Sandwiched by the two technical stages are long rides over the flat and well-paved Maharlika Highway that dissects the Bicol Region where sprinters could frolic on.
Stage Two on June 15 will be the 194.90 kms from Pagbilao in Quezon Province to Daet in Camarines, Norte, Stage Three on June 16 will be 183.70 kms from Daet to Legaspi City and Stage Four will cover 176.00 kms from Legaspi City via Sorsogon and Gubat and back to the Albay capital.
Fifteen teams—five local and 10 international—composed of 75 riders are vying in the race.