After six years of seeing action in Northern Luzon, Le Tour de Filipinas goes down south in its 2016 edition with the race kicking off from Antipolo City and finishing with the majestic Mayon Volcano as backdrop in Legaspi City.
The four-stage race starts on February 18.
“It’s about time that we bring the LTdF down south, this time in the Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions to spur awareness on cycling not only as a competitive sport, but more importantly as a form of physical fitness,” said Donna Lina of the organizing Ube Media Inc.
Fifteen teams, including at least 12 continental teams from five continents, will be racing for the 2016 edition of the only UCI race in the country. The race will cover an approximate distance of 600 kilometers.
The opening stage will hit the hills of Antipolo and traverse the so-called backdoor to the south through Laguna and Quezon and will finish in bustling Lucena City.
Stage Two of the annual race on the Asia Tour of the International Cycling Union (UCI) will bring the continental team-laden entourage to Daet, Camarines Norte, on February 19.
Stage Three on February 20 will be a long ride from Daet to Legaspi City where the riders get their first look at enchanting Mayon before finishing in the Albay capital of Legaspi.
The final stage on February 21 will circle Mayon Volcano passing by the geothermal power plants in Tiwi on an out-and-back course also in Legaspi City.
The first six editions of Le Tour were raced up north with the Cordilleras posing as the biggest challenge to the cyclists.
Two Filipinos -- Baler Ravina (2012) and Mark Galedo (2014) -- won the contest. Ireland’s David McCann topped the 2010 inaugurals, followed by Iran’s Rahem Emami in 2011.
Former Asia No. 1 Ghader Mizbani prevailed in 2013 while Frenchman Thomas Lebas, riding for Japan-based Bridgestone Anchor Cycling Team, ruled the 2015 edition.