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Tour de Flores crowns winner, set to be annual tourism event

Intan Tanjung and Markus Makur

The Jakarta Post

Flores, East Nusa Tenggara  /  Tue, May 24, 2016  /  02:57 pm
Tour de Flores crowns winner, set to be annual tourism event

Tour de Flores is expected to boost tourism in East Nusa Tenggara, which is already famous with Komodo Island (as pictured), Kelimutu and the heritage village of Wae Rebo. (Shutterstock/-)

For five consecutive days, cyclist from all around the world competed in the scenic Tour de Flores that ended on Monday.

The tour passed through the 661.5-kilometer Trans-Flores highway that connects Larantuka to Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), which is famous for its spectacular landscape that encompasses the ocean, mountains, islands, villages, jungle and farmland. 

The event was largely held to promote Flores as one of the archipelago's most beautiful tourism destinations . 

"We expect the Tour de Flores to become an annual tourism event that could attract both domestic and foreign visitors to visit [NTT]," said Tourism Minister Arief Yahya in Labuan Bajo.

Out of the total 100 cyclists in the tour, only 78 completed all the stages. Indeed, the course contained steep climbs and extreme descents with sharp turns that most cyclists would find to be challenging.

(Read also: Tour de Flores promises challenges, spectacular landscape for cyclists)

New Zealander Daniel Whitehouse from the Malaysian Terengganu Cycling Team came out as winner after completing the tour in 18:11:43s, with a gap of 2 minutes and 56 seconds over runner-up Benjamin Prades from Spain, who rode for Japan's UKYO team.

The gap was gained when Whitehouse won the second stage, in which he lead from start to finish, getting through the 141.3 kilometers from Maumere to Ende in 3:55:51s. 

“I know I had the 3 minute advantage, so I wanted to keep the gap [between my closest competitors] as small as possible,” Whitehouse told The Jakarta Post.

“As an individual stage, this [race] was the hardest [as the track] was very steep. I think there’s only around 10 kilometers of flat road in total in this stage.”

Whitehouse admitted that he was quite surprised with the final stage, which he found to be the hardest. The road connecting Manggarai to West Manggarai with Labuan Bajo features three climbs, with the highest peak reaching 1207 meters above sea level in Cancar district. 

(Read also: Cultural performances mark Tour de Flores celebration in Larantuka)

In addition to the challenges posed by the stage's course, the weather was also a factor for the cyclist as the hot climate greeted them when arriving in Lembor district, after enjoying more cooler weather in the previous two stages.

“It’s really was a hard day. We were talking last night that we really didn't expect the race to go like it did,” Whitehouse said. “I didn't think that it would have been that hot, [... especially] on the climb.”

New Zealander Daniel Whitehouse from the Malaysian Terengganu Cycling Team came out on top as tour winner with an overall time of 18:11:43s.(JP/Intan Tanjung)

Before participating in the Tour de Flores, Whitehouse joined the Tour de Ijen Banyuwangi in East Java. He admitted that he didn’t have any idea about the competition or course nor had he undertaken any special preparations for the event. He only optimized his daily habits such as eating and stretching.

Whitehouse said that he was impressed with the quality of the tour and the friendly locals, especially when school students could be heard cheering for him, which he said had motivated him to win.

When asked if he would compete in the tour again next year, he said without hesitation, “I see no reason why not?”  

Indonesian cyclists Robin Manulang and Dadi Suryadi, who finished the race in fifth and sixth place, respectively, were also awarded the first and second Asian and Indonesian best cyclist titles for their accomplishments. (kes)

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