Foreign riders from continental and international teams quietly slipped into the country in the past few days to acclimatize themselves with the intense summer heat that could wear them down in the 2013 Le Tour de Filipinas.
First to arrive on Monday was Hong Kong-based Team Direct Asia, which settled in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, three days before the four-stage bikathon kicks off tomorrow in Bangui, a coastal town famous for its gigantic power-generating windmills.
Continental squad Polygon Sweet Nice (Malaysia) and club teams Perth Cycling (Australia) and Korail Cycling Team (South Korea) have also surveyed the scorching terrain all the way to Cagayan Valley since their arrival early in the week.
Stage One is a 175.5-kilometer ride on mostly flat terrain to Aparri, Cagayan, with the only climbing challenge presenting itself early in the race.
A huge group of continental riders checked in yesterday led by Tabriz Petrochemical (Iran), CCN Cycling (Taiwan), Terrenganu Cycling (Malaysia), OSBC Singapore and Atilla Cycling Club (Mongolia).
Race manager Paquito Rivas, a former Tour champion and Eagle of the Mountain, said the heat, recorded at an average of 37 degrees Centigrade the past few days, would definitely take its toll on the foreign riders.
“It’s not getting cooler. That is why the strong sprinters and climbers are not the only ones who will enjoy an advantage, but also the riders who are used to high temperatures,” said Rivas, a director of PhilCycling, the national association for cycling.
Led by continental teams LBC-MVPSF Cycling Pilipinas and Team 7-Eleven Roadbike Philippines, the Filipino riders also arrived in Pagudpud yesterday. Navy-Standard Insurance, Marines-Standard Insurance and American Vinyl are the other local squads.
However, some of the riders from Ayandeh Continental suffered injuries while training. The continental squad from Uzbekistan also pulled out of the Le Tour presented by Air21 in partnership with San Miguel Corp. and Smart.
The fourth edition of the Le Tour is part of the International Cycling Union Asia Tour.