For cycle enthusisasts in Pakistan, a wonderful international event is just around the corner. The 13th Tour de Pakistan International Cycling Race, organized by Pakistan Cycling Federation, will be held on March 4-18. The race will start from Quaid’s tomb in Karachi on March 4 and end in Peshawar on March 18, taking the participants through a various cities of Sindh, Punjab and NWPF on the famous Grand Trunk (GT) Road.
This will be among the largest of such events in Asia, covering a distance of 1,648 km in eleven stages with four days of rest en route. This event is being promoted as a part of the Visit Pakistan Year (2007), and is planned to draw an international crowd of cycling enthusiasts to promote a better understanding of the country and to promote tourism.
The event is modeled on the pattern of the well known Tour de France and is expected to include more than 150 domestic and foreign participants, including those from Germany, Canada, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Iran, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. As of last night most of these teams had already arrived in the country.
This race is a fantastic idea and I hope the Federation will succeed in not just promoting the race nationally and internationally, but will also be able to ensure proper arrangements regarding security, lodging, boarding, medical and transport facilities. It is unfortunate that India opted out of the race at the last minute due to security fears after the train incident, but is encouraging to see participants from many other countries involved.
As for Pakistan’s contingent, it is surely hoped that they will put a strong display of skills and team work against their international competitors. Teams from Army, Railways, Wapda and Sui Southern Gas Company, along with teams of the four provinces will be competing for the prize money of Rs 1.2 million. According the PCF, these teams have trained under the supervision of a coach from New Zealand, but even if they do not win, their participation is in itself something to be admired and be joyous about. Go guys!!!
I wish our teams, and the organizers of this event, well in their efforts!