LEGAZPI CITY, 2Feb2016 — Thousands of foreign and local visitors are expected to arrive in this premier city of Bicol to witness at least three national and international sports events in the first half of this year, Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda on Monday said.
Salceda said the sports events include the XTerra Off-road Triathlon on Feb. 7; followed by the Le Tour De Filipinas, an international in road bike race on Feb. 18-21, and the Palarong Pambansa 2016 in April.
He said thousands of national and foreign visitors would arrive in this city to witness the sports competitions.
“These events, aside from the various festivals that the 15 towns and three cities are offering, will surely boost the tourism industry of the province,” the provincial chief executive said.
The XTerra off-road Triathlon race is the second international event to take place this year in Albay.
The race starts with the swim course wherein racers will swim a distance of 1,500 meters at a beach in Mayon Reviera, Barangay (village) Lidong, Sto. Domingo town.
A mountain bike course will follow where the cyclists will bike 35 kilometers around the scenic Mayon Volcano, passing through fine roads, grasslands, sand and rock trail.
The final course will be a 9.2-kilometer run that will follow the All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV) route near Mayon Volcano, passing through rocky and sandy areas, riverbeds and grasslands.
The race will end at the historic Cagsawa Ruins Park in Daraga town.
For the Le Tour De Filipinas, an international biking competition now on its 7th year, City Mayor Noel Rosal said preparations are now in place for the hosting of the 7th Le Tour De Filipinas, an International Cycling Union (ICU) competition to kick off on Feb. 18-21 from Antipolo City to Legazpi City in Albay.
Rosal said the City Tourism Office has coordinated with various hotel and restaurant owners for the big event where 450 foreign and local visitors would arrive and stay here during the duration of the biking competition.
Donna May Lina of the Ube Media Inc., event organizer, said 75 cyclists from 15 teams (five riders per team) with 12 foreign and three local are vying in the ICU Category 2.2 race that will cover a total distance of 700 kms.
Lina, 23, the daughter of Bureau of Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina said the international biking competition will cover four stages.
These include Stage One of the race, which will see the 75 cyclists taking a rolling 153-kilometer ride from Antipolo City to Lucena in Quezon, on Feb. 18 this year.
Stage Two will be 204 km of pedaling from Lucena City to Daet, Camarines Norte on Feb, 19.
Stage Three will be 187 km from Daet to Legazpi City where Mayon Volcano will be waiting to awe the bikers with its majectic near-perfect cone summit.
On Stage Four on Feb. 21, the cyclists will negotiate the roads circling Mount Mayon in 360 degrees, covering the towns of Sto Domingo, Bacacay, Malilipot, Guinobatan, Camalig, Daraga and the cities of Tabaco, Ligao and Legazpi.
This stage will cover 147 km.
Lina said the 15 foreign cycling squads will come from Belarus, United Arab Emirates, Japan, United States, Holland, Germany, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan and Laos.
Air21 is the franchise holder of the Tour De Filipinas after it bought its rights from Marlboro Cigarette Co., the tour owner of the Tour of Luzon and Marlboro Tour.
Among the noted cyclists that won the Tour of Luzon are Jose Sumalde, a Bicolano and native of Catanduanes, tagged as the “Eagle of the Mountain”; Paquito Rivas, currently Tour Filipinas director; Manuel Reynante and Jacinto Sicam, to name a few.
Meanwhile, Frenchman Thomas Lebas, the 2016 Le Tour de Filipinas champion, will be defending his crown as the tour rolls off on Feb. 18-21.
Rudy Fulo, Air21 chairman and president, said the Tour de Filipinas is not only a sports event but it also serves as a tourism driver, boosting the province’s tourism industry,
Fulo, who hails from Bulusan town in Sorsogon, said “Sports is a collateral advantage to tourism where foreign visitors are looking for places that are adventurous but peaceful, experience fine dining, enjoy its scenery.”
Salceda said the construction of sports facilities for the week-long (April 10-16) Palarong Pambansa is 70 percent complete.
These include the Olympic-size swimming pool, grandstand, oval at the Bicol University grounds and other facilities in Barangay Traversia in Guinobatan town.
Salceda said some 16,000 delegates from various regions are expected to arrive during the Palaro Games where the delegates will be housed in 32 Department of Education school buildings near sports events grounds.
He said the province would be spending Php300 million for the national sports event, as he assured the Palarong Pambansa Board that Albay has the equipment and resources needed to construct and repair its sports facilities and playing venues. (PNA)