Felipe keeps sights fixed on Tokyo
TAGAYTAY CITY — More than bringing home a precious hardware from the Le Tour de Filipinas, Marcelo Felipe of 7Eleven Cliqq Air21 by Road Bike Philippines is interested in the Olympic qualifying points at stake in the 10th edition of the foreign-spiced bikathon.
Felipe, who ruled the recent PRURide PH in Subic, is the country’s top bet to ride in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a feat no Filipino cyclist has done in decades.
“Yes, that’s precisely our target. The Olympics,” Felipe said in Filipino before the five-stage Le Tour kicks off on Friday with an uphill 129.50-kilometer out-and-back course in Tagaytay City marked by seven torturous climbs.
It won’t be easy for the premier rider of 7Eleven Road Bike Philippines, not with the battle-ready cyclists from 11 foreign continental teams and three other local squads blocking Felipe’s way.
“While our team will be all-out in supporting Marcelo, we’re also hoping more Filipino riders could take advantage of this race and gain Olympic qualifying points,” said 7Eleven RBP team owner Bong Sual.
Felipe upped his Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) ranking points to 147 after the PRURide win, moving closer to the 250-point quota that Olympic hopefuls have to meet by October to get to ride in Tokyo.
Felipe’s stint is also heavily dependent on the overall ranking of the Philippines in the UCI since only the top 50 countries can send their riders to Tokyo.
Riders and officials from Go For Gold Philippine Continental Cycling Team and Philippine Navy Standard Insurance have joined the effort to send a Filipino to the Olympics.
On its 10th year, the Le Tour has prepared a queen stage that will break the backs of both local and foreign riders on the second lap—a grueling 194.90-km ride from Pagbilao, Quezon, to Daet in Camarines Norte.
Stage 3 on Sunday will cover 183.70 km from Daet to Legazpi City and the fourth stage will have 176 km from Legazpi City via Sorsogon and Gubat before riding back to the Albay capital.
The final stage on Tuesday is also an out-and-back ride in Legazpi City.