2013 Le Tour de Filipinas preview

Despite the fundamental challenge of squeezing in a wide variety of terrain and balance into a four-day format, Le Tour de Filipinas organising committee has again delivered a superb parcours which is certain to catch out at least a few international riders who may underestimate thanks to their relative anonymity on the global stage local climbers such as Joel Calderon and Bader Ravina.

LE TOUR DE FILIPINAS BACKGROUNDER
In contrast to last year s event, won by local lad Ravina, the 2013 edition of Le Tour de Filipinas packs in 20% more distance, but leaves the famed Northern Alps final stage unchanged. Also increasing in size is the number of UCI Continental teams expected to start, but this in no way dilutes the chances of local riders like Ravina, whose raw talent remains a real threat to unsuspecting first-time international participants. The mixture of Continental, National and Club teams, only serves to increase the chances for surprise.

One of the most viewed pages on the Cycling iQ blog is related to Joel Calderon s bike. Calderon stunned the field in 2012 with his victory on the gruelling fourth stage, carving out minutes from more experienced riders on much lighter machines. Scheduled to ride this year for the Philippine Navy Standard Insurance club team, it will be extremely interesting to see what machinery Calderon (and his compatriots) rolls up with this year.

A preview of last year s course and more background on the event itself can be found here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wz9vpy_sKBI]

WEATHER
Humidity and high temperatures are the theme for May, with daytime temperatures approaching 40 C, dipping into the mid-twenties overnight.

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DIFFICULTY
Following two flat, but long, stages, the peloton will need to be thankful for a reprieve on the third day. The final stage, with over 3,000 metres of vertical ascent, will be decisive. Long bouts of exposure to sun can be expected as riders traverse Luzon via wide motorways, and the heat will be further exaggerated on the final stage which can expect to be a five-hour slog-fest for perhaps as much as two-thirds of the field. Hydration and moderation in the first three stages may prove pivotal.

TEAMS BREAKDOWN
Teams must have a minimum of four, and maximum of six, riders and four officials. Eight UCI Continental teams account for more than 50% of the start list, which includes local Continental squads 7-Eleven Presented By Roadbike and LBC-MVPSF Cycling Pilipinas . Club teams, from as far afield as Mongolia and Australia round out the peloton.

Though a strong Tabriz Petrochemical Team lineup looks threatening, it remains theoretical until all riders actually clear immigrations in the Philippines the team s visa and financial issues of 2012 have carried over and remain a burden. OCBC s Sea Keong Loh was the strongest non-Filipino rider in last year s race, finishing 2nd overall, so in the event Loh once again enters the final stage in the top three on general classification the prospect of another showdown in the Northern Alps with Calderon and/or 2012 race-winner Ravina is tantalising.

LEADER S JERSEYS
Four jerseys will be awarded at the conclusion of each stage:

Leader of General Classification Yellow Leader of Points Classification Green Leader of Young Rider Individual Classification White

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Leader of King of the Mountains Classification Polka Dot

PRIZE MONEY
To be updated once race manual is in hand:

Overall winner (individual) = USD Overall team = USD Overall Points = USD Stage winner = USD Best Young Rider (overall individual) = USD

*as at today s exchange rates

MEDIA OUTREACH
The 2013 Le Tour de Filipinas official website has received a facelift from last year and is fairly easy to navigate, whilst pre-race information has also been flowing consistently via the Le Tour de Filipinas Facebook and Twitter account in recent weeks. One of the more exciting announcements relating to race highlights, which will be broadcast by CNN though please note that scheduling will depend on your region. For detailed information about each stage schedule, the full race manual can be downloaded here (PDF, 19.3MB).

Stage 1 | Bangui Aparri 183km
Saturday, 13 April 2013

Stage 2 | Aparri Cauayan 196km
Sunday, 14 April 2013

Stage 3 | Cauayan Bayombong 104km
Monday, 15 April 2013

Stage 4 | Bayombong Baguio 132.7km
Tuesday, 16 April 2013

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