KOTA KINABALU: One hundred cyclists from 20 teams will compete in the inaugural Tour of Borneo, which will take the particapants from Tawau to Kota Kinabalu between Sept 21 and 27.
Eleven of the teams are Asian national sides. There will be six professional teams from Asia and Europe, two Malaysian national sides and a Sabah squad.
The organisers, Yellow Jersey Sdn Bhd and Sabah Cycling Association (SCA), said that the Tour would take the cyclists through some of the tougher routes in the country.
The Sabah Youth and Sports Minister, Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, who chaired the organising committee meeting on Tuesday, said that preparations to stage the event were progressing smoothly.
“We have formed several sub-committees, including those at district-level. We are also monitoring the progress to ensure that there will be no let-up in the preparations,” he said.
The Tour offers RM160,215 in prize money and it is sanctioned by the world cycling federation (Union Cycliste Internationale).
Meanwhile SCA president Philip Lasimbang said the toughest route in the Tour would be the 240km-long climb from Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary in Sandakan to the foot of Mount Kinabalu in Kundasang, Ranau.
This route is the longest in the 918km Tour.
The Tour begins with a criterium race in Tawau. The other stages of the Tour are: Tawau-Semporna (Sept 22); Semporna-Lahad Datu (Sept 23); Lahad Datu-Sandakan (Sept 24); Sepilok-Kundasang (Sept 25); Penampang Belud (Sept 26); and a 72km criterium race in Kota Kinabalu (Sept 27).
Yellow Jersey's director of operations Jamaludin Mahmood said that the Tour would eventually be expanded to cover Sarawak, Brunei and Labuan – Bernama