Friday, May 20, 2016


Jakarta, May 20, 2016 (Antara) - The ongoing Tour de Flores (TdF) is being organized for the first time this year, yet it has surprisingly attracted cyclists from several countries.
         The cycling race was flagged off by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Rizal Ramli in Larantuka, East Flores District, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) Province, on May 19.
         The coordinating minister was pleased to witness several foreign and domestic cyclists participating in the TdF. Ramli has supported the plan to organize TdF annually to promote NTT's scenic charms worldwide. 
   NTT Governor Frans Lebu Raya has planned to organize TdF annually.
         "I just discussed it with Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Resources Affairs Rizal Ramli, and the minister has agreed to make TdF an annual event," he noted after the minister flagged off the participants. 
    "This year, the preparations were made on a short notice, so there might be several shortcomings. We hope that next year, the implementation would be better," he added.  
     He urged the local residents to support the event and help ensure that the cycling event would run smoothly and peacefully, and the participants are able to enjoy the journey.
           Chairman of the Indonesian Cycling Federation Raja Sapta Oktohari lauded the implementation of Tour de Flores.
         "When its proposal came, I thought Tour de Flores would be a national event. However, in reality, it is an international event and was immediately included in the calendar of UCI (The Union Cycliste Internationale). We are very proud to be able to organize this event," he added.

          Earlier, several media outlets had reported that some 230 cyclists from 26 countries were expected to participate in the TdF, which will last until May 26.
         Most of the cyclists had earlier participated in the Tour de Banyuwangi Ijen, which took place in Banyuwangi, East Java Province, on May 11-14, 2016. 
    The participants are grouped in 20 teams, including Wisdom Hengxiang from China; KINAN CT and Ukyo from Japan; LX IIBS CT and Geumsam Insam Cello from South Korea; Terengganu from Malaysia; 7-ElevenSava RBP CT from the Philippines; Black Inc CT from Laos; Singha Infinite CT from Thailand; St. George Merida, Oliver's Real Food Racing, and Swiss Wellness Team from Australia; and Kenyan Riders Downunder from Kenya.
         The cyclists began the first stage, covering a distance of 148 kilometers (km), of the race from the office of the East Flores district head in Larantuka at 9 a.m. local time and headed to Maumere.
         The cycling event, touring Flores Island, is divided into five stages covering a total distance of 615 km.
         The participants are expected to conclude the race on May 26, 2016, in Labuan Bajo where they will be greeted by President Joko Widodo at the finish line.
         The first stage is from Larantuka in East Flores District to Maumere in Sikka District, where the participants will stay overnight.
          The second stage is from Maumere to Ende; the third stage is from Ende to Bajawa in Ngada District; the fourth stage from Bajawa to Ruteng in Manggarai District; and the fifth stage is from Ruteng to Labuan Bajo in West Manggarai District.
          At every stopover, the international cyclists will be greeted and entertained by local artists who will perform traditional dances.
         Jason Christie of the Kenya Riders Downunder team won the first stage.
        Christie biked across the finish line and won the 138.8 kilometer-stage in three hours 28 minutes and 41 seconds, and was followed by Wesley Sulzberberger from the Kinan Cycling Team.
         Meanwhile, MA Guangdong from the Wisdom-Hexiang Cycling Team came in third.  
    "Today's race was quite tough. I tried hard to remain with the group until the finish line," Christie said after receiving the yellow jacket.
         Meanwhile, Indonesian riders were also competitive in the race.
         National cyclist Robin Manulang managed to finish fourth followed by Warseno, who came in sixth.
         Furthermore, Governor Lebu Raya has planned to organize the Tour de Timor (TdT) next year in a bid to replicate the success of the TdF event.
         "After taking the tourists to Flores Island during the TdF, next year, we will continue with the TdT, where foreign visitors will be offered a tour of Timor Island up to Rote," he stated.
        NTT, known as a province of one thousand islands, plans to organize the two international cycling events on the islands of Flores and Timor annually to promote tourism in the region at the international level.
       The province offers a wide array of natural scenery, culture, ethnicity, handcrafts, ancient sites, and unique traditions that could be showcased to foreign tourists, he noted.
         "I am certain it will benefit the community," he remarked.

(T.F001/A/BESSR/F. Assegaf) 20-05-2016 15:14:13

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