LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 26 (PNA) -- Close to half a million foreign and local visitors are expected to arrive in this premier city of Bicol to witness the Le Tour De Filipinas, an international biking competition now on its seventh year, City Mayor Noel Rosal said at a press conference Tuesday.
Rosal said preparations are now in place for the hosting of the 7th Le Tour De Filipinas, which will kick off on Feb. 18 - 21 from Antipolo City to Legazpi City in Albay.
He said the City Tourism Office has already coordinated with various hotels and restaurants for the big event where 450 foreign and local visitors are expected to arrive and stay here during the duration of the biking competition.
Donna May Lina of the Ube Media Inc., event organizer, said 75 cyclists from 15 teams (five riders per team) with 12 foreign and three local are vying in the ICU Category 2.2 race that will cover a total distance of 700 kilometers.
Lina, 23, daughter of Bureau of Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina, said at the press conference that the international biking competition will cover three stages.
Stage One of the race will see the 75 cyclists negotiating a rolling 153-kilometer ride from Antipolo City to Lucena in Quezon on Feb. 18.
Stage Two will be 204 km of pedaling from Lucena City to Daet, Camarines Norte on Feb. 19.
Stage Three will be a 187-km ride from Daet to Legazpi City where Mayon Volcano will be waiting to awe the cyclists with its majestic near-perfect cone summit.
At the Stage Four on Feb. 21, cyclists will hit the road, circling Mount Mayon 360 degrees and covering the towns of Sto. Domingo, Bacacay, Malilipot, Guinobatan, Camalig, Daraga and the cities of Tabaco, Ligao and Legazpi. The stage will cover 147 km.
Lina said the 15 foreign cycling squads came from Belarus, United Arab Eemirates, Japan, United States, Holland, Germany, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan and Laos.
Air21 is the franchise holder of the Tour De Filipinas after it bought the rights from Marlboro Cigarette Co., the tour owner of the Tour of Luzon and Marlboro Tour.
Among the noted cyclists that won the Tour of Luzon include: Jose Sumalde, a Bicolano and a native of Catanduanes tagged as the “Eagle of the Mountain”; Paquito Rivas, currently Tour Filipinas tour director; Manuel Reynante and Jacinto Sicam, to name a few.
Meanwhile, Frenchman Thomas Lebas, the 2016 Le Tour de Filipinas champion, will be defending his crown as the tour kicks off on Feb. 18 to 21.
Rudy Fulo, Air21 chairman and president, said the Tour de Filipinas is not only a sports event but it also serves a tourism driver boosting the province tourism industry.
Fulo, who also hails from Bulusan town in Sorsogon, said “Sports is a collateral advantage to tourism where foreign visitors are looking for places that are adventurous but peaceful, experience fine dining, enjoy its sceneries.”
Legazpi City has played host to national and international sports events that include Mayon Triathlon and Mayon Trail Run, to name a few, while Albay will host in February the XTerra sports competition and will host this year's Palarong Pambansa in April. (PNA) FPV/FGS/MSA/CBD