Le Tour Starts April 13

The fourth Le Tour de Pilipinas pedals off on April 13 featuring crack riders from 20 foreign and local teams clashing in the hinterlands of Northern Luzon and Cordillera Administrative Region.

A total of 130 cyclists are competing in the four-day, 608.20-kilometer race sanctioned by Switzerland- based International Cycling Union and Philcycling and supported by Philippine Sports Commission, Department of Tourism and Metropolitan Manila Department Authority.

"The Tour de Pilipinas is an extremely important cycling event in Asia and the only one in the Philippines to be part of the UCI tour," said UCI president Pat McQuaid in his message to the organizers.

Of the 20 foreign teams seeing action, four will come from Europe Germany, Ireland, Netherlands and Portugal and the rest from Asia.

Other foreign teams are Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Uzbekistan, Singapore, Mongolia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, and Brunei

Australia, Taiwan and Iran have two teams each. This will be the first time Australia is competing in Le Tour.

The local teams are Philippine National team, Navy/Standard, American Vinyl, LBC-MVPSF, Marines Cycling, and 7/11 of Bong Sual and Ric Rodriguez.

"Our dream was to make Le Tour de Pilipnas the only continental race in the Philippines. Now, it turned out a reality," said Philcycling chairman Bert Lina during a press conference at the historic Manila Hotel.

Reigning champion Baler Ravina will lead the local challenge. The 31-year-old from Asingan, Pangasinan won the Eagle of the Mountain twice in 2007 and 2009.