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Le Tour: 3 ex-champs favored

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 02:34 AM January 09, 2015

MULTIPLE Tour winner Mark Galedo and Iranians Rahim Emami and Ghader Mizbani will be the riders to watch when the sixth edition of the four-stage Le Tour de Filipinas hits the road on Feb. 1.

Although Galedo, last year’s champion, has the slight edge with his familiarity of the route, Emami or Mizbani could snatch the crown with a solid crew of climbers and sprinters backing them up.

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Emami, the 2011 titlist, rides for Iran-based Pishgaman Yazd Pro Cycling Team while Mizbani, who won the 2.2 UCI race in 2013, is the anchor of the TPT Cycling Team of Iran.

“The first stage will be crucial in deciding the champion of the race,” said Galedo, a three-time Tour champion who will ride for the national team, during Thursday’s press launch at the Pandango Ballroom of Manila Hotel.

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With a total distance of 530.09 kilometers over four days, the multistage race starts off with a 126-km out-and-back journey that will begin and end in Balanga, Bataan.

All 75 riders from 15 teams will venture into the mountainous region of the province in Morong going to Subic Bay Freeport.

Celebrating its 60th year, the Tour will reach its climax on historic Kennon Road on the way to high-altitude Baguio City (101.70 km) from Lingayen, Pangasinan. On the flatlands of Central Luzon and Pangasinan, Stage 2 (Balanga to Iba, Zambales) and Stage 3 (Iba to Lingayen) will be the key stretches for sprinters.

“We always make it a point that every race will be exciting. We also go to places that feature the beauty of our country,” said Alberto Lina of race presenter Air21.

Donna May Lina-Flavier, president of race organizer Ube Media, PhilCycling president and Cavite representative Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, international commissaire Ding Cruz, race manager Paquito Rivas, national cycling coach Chris Allison and cycling patron Bong Sual also graced the affair.

The race is co-presented by MVP Sports Foundation, Meralco and Smart. Road partners are NLEX, Victory Liner, Isuzu and Man and backed by San Mig Zero, Viking, Fern-C, 7-Eleven, Maynilad, Prudential Guarantee, Cargohaus, 2100 Customs Brokers Inc. with the Inquirer as one of the media partners.

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TAGS: Iran, Le Tour, Mark Galedo, Pangasinan
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