Tour-de-Timor race starts for 350 cyclists.

25 Aug 2009

Tour-de-Timor race starts for 350 cyclists.

Dili, 25 August 2009 - We hope that everyone will be a winner in this race for peace," said President José

Ramos-Horta yesterday at the opening of the Tour-de-Timor, a multi-stage bicycle race open to Timorese and international cyclists. The inaugural 5-day race is between 24-28 August. Promoting Timor-Leste as a place of peace, the race coincides with the lead-up to the celebrations for the 10-year anniversary of the 30 August 1999 UN-organised and conducted Popular Consultation, in which the people of Timor-Leste voted to determine their future.

"The Tour-de-Timor will be a showcase for the friendliness and energy of the Timorese people, and the beauty of this island nation," said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Timor-Leste, Atul Khare. "I am delighted, too, that the cooperation between the United Nations and the Timorese authorities demonstrates our shared objectives in achieving peace, security, and development as Timor-Leste continues on the road to consolidating itself as a democratic society founded on human rights and the rule of law."

Covering approximately 400km (to a height of about 2,000 metres above sea level), the race course covers 5 of the nation's 13 districts. The course has been designed to take riders through the most spectacular terrains of Timor-Leste: from high mountain ranges to tropical jungle, through to the cool high-altitude coffee country and along the picturesque undulating coastlines.

Representing 9 countries, 330 cyclists, including 25 Timorese, are participating in event. The United Nations is fielding 6 teams, comprising 24 cyclists, with one all-female team. Race finalists will take home prize money totalling USD75,000, in which USD15,000 will be awarded for the first prize. UN Police, who have authority for policing under the peacekeeping mandate, will work with the national police to maintain security across the race course.

Day-long festivals of peace including concerts, art work, theatre and sporting activities are being held in the district towns where each leg of the race ends, highlighting the Tour-de-Timor as a celebration of peace and national unity.