Thousands of Flores residents stand on the side of the road and patiently wait to catch a glimpse of the riders throughout the five-day Tour de Flores race. (SP Photo/Joanito de Saojoao)
Briton Daniel Whitehouse Takes Inaugural, Tough Tour de Flores
BY :DION BISARA
MAY 23, 2016
Labuan Bajo, Flores. Briton Daniel Whitehouse came up triumph in the inaugural Tour de Flores 2016, which ended on Monday (23/05) with high praises from riders, organizers and the island's residents.
Tour de Flores is the only international cycling competition in eastern Indonesia, covering 661.5 kilometer of serpentine routes that showcase the island’s volcanoes, cliffs, beaches and secluded valleys.
Whitehouse, who rides with the Terengganu Cycling Team, finished third in the final stage of the tour, but his impressive solo run in the second stage from Maumere to Ende had already secured the title.
“Tour de Flores is hard. If this continues, the race will be a great one in the next five years,” Whitehouse said at the finish line in Labuan Bajo.
Indonesia's champion rider Robin Manullang lost his chance for a podium place in overall classification after finishing 14th in the final stage, surrendering his second place to Spaniard Benjamin Prades. But Manullang can take consolation from the fact that he was both the best Asian and Indonesian racer in the tour.
Prades, who race with Japan’s Team Ukyo, got a red jersey for winning the final stage, after finishing as a runner-up in the previous three stages. Australian Jai Crawford of Kinan Cycling Team came third in overall classification.
The overall classification winner is entitled to Rp 50 million ($3,660) in prize money. Riders also accumulated prize money from winning individual stages—the King of the Mountains and the sprints—and for being among the best Asian or Indonesian riders. In total, Tour de Flores 2016 awarded Rp 1 billion to the winners.
One hundred riders from 16 countries started Tour de Flores 2016 in Larantuka, the island’s easternmost town, but steep climbs and hot climate took its toll along the road, leaving only 78 riders in the last stage to Labuan Bajo.
"The tour shares similar characteristics with Tour de Singkarak, and a lot harder than the Tour de Banyuwangi Ijen. All the riders find the race very surprising and challenging," Robin said.
The heat however could not prevent thousands of Flores residents from standing in the midday heat along the road to catch a glimpse of the riders throughout the five-day race. Some of them wore traditional clothes, often worn to honor guests, and performed traditional dancing and music on the side of the road.
Arief Yahya, the Minister of Tourism, said Tour de Flores is designed to be an annual event that combines tourism and an international cycling competition to attract both domestic and international travelers to the island.
“In this inaugural tour, the central and regional government worked in close collaboration to make the event a success,” Arief said in a statement
The race was held under the supervision of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)—the world's governing body for sport cycling—and the Indonesian Cycling Federation. It was categorized as a 2.2 race, the lowest-ranking competition usually reserved for young cyclists who look to improve their world ranking.
The local government also used the event to showcase folk festivals, dances, bazaars and trips to major tourist attractions like Lake Kelimutu and the Komodo Island.
“Tour de Flores complements two similar races in Indonesia, the Tour de Singkarak and Tour de Banyuwangi Ijen. But the Tour de Flores is a lot more challenging, as it features 13 King of the Mountain stages, four of those in the hors categorie, the hardest climbs in professional cycling,” Tour de Flores Chairman Primus Dorimulu said.