RIDERS and coaches in this year’s Le Tour de Filipinas all agreed that Stage 2 of the five-lap race will be the difference maker in the entire 822.2 km race that comes off the road starting this weekend.
From defending champion El Joshua Carino to former title holder Mark Galedo, the 194.9 km ride from Pagbilao, Quezon to Daet, Camarines Norte may well be considered the ‘killer lap’ of the Tour that is celebrating its 10th anniversary.
“Walang Baguio-to-Baguio (ngayon), kaya Stage 2 yung pinaka-mahirap,” noted Carino, the national team member who is gunning to become the first ever back-to-back champion of the Category 2.2 event sanctioned by the International Cycling Union (UCI).
“Yung haba ng distansiya, hindi ka basta-basta babanat,” said Galedo, the 2014 champion representing Celeste Cycle. “Dapat kakalkulahin mo kung saan ka aatake.”
The two champion riders gave their outlook about the upcoming race at the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Amelie Hotel-Manila, three days before the event kicks off in Tagaytay City on Friday for the 129.50 km. Stage 1.
Marcelo Felipe, who recently topped the PRURide Philippines 2019 Stage Race in Subic, also shared the same belief as the two other Filipino riders, although he did not discount the possibility either of the opening stage playing a crucial role in deciding this year’s champion.