The Tour de Timor will return for its third year on September 11-16 2011. The mountain bike stage race will be run with the theme "Peace begins with me" and is hosted by President José Ramos-Horta and the Government of Timor-Leste. Organizers have announced the route and dates for this year's edition.
"The 2011 Tour de Timor is an auspicious occasion for this young nation. With the enormous success of the first and second iterations, it is fair to say that the Tour de Timor has become a memorable annual event on the calendar for both professional cyclists and tourists alike," said President Ramos-Horta.
"The Tour de Timor is the most participated event of the year with thousands of Timorese in the cities, towns and most remote villages turning out daily on the streets to welcome you to their neighbourhoods and cheer on their riders."
In 2010, 75 Timorese competed in the event with the Da Costa brothers regularly making the top 10 among the foreigners. They will be aiming for a podium finish this year.
"This year you will visit my childhood mountain village of Laclubar as well as the spectacular far East of the country," said Ramos-Horta. "I am once again delighted to invite riders from around the world to join us, to experience the toughest mountain bike race in Asia, and to join us in celebrating peace for Timor-Leste.
President Ramos-Horta initiated the Tour de Timor in 2009 to assist in consolidating peace and national unity in Timor-Leste. "I launched the Dili 'City of Peace' Programme to cultivate peace in the country. The Tour de Timor is a multi-day event that crosses the rivers, the mountains, and the jungles taking in much of the interior. It is unique also because you are crossing through a country that witnessed so much violence and devastation and today is at peace, evidence that when human beings have dreams and wish to work toward obtaining those dreams, we can".
In September 2009, following the successful completion of the inaugural event, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade dropped its travel warning for East Timor from the second highest travel warning "Reconsider your need to travel" to the next level down, putting it on par with countries such as Brazil, India and the Philippines.
From start to finish, the riders are tested with several kilometres worth of climbing as they cross the 2,500-3,000m peaks over the spine of the country. They are treated to views of seas on both the North and South coasts of the country, views of rainforests and rice paddies, mountain villages and rural children. They are pushed to compete across conditions ranging from extreme heat and dryness to constant rainfall.
The Tour de Timor this year will take place over six days rather than the normal five. This is because the Tour will be heading across over 500km of assorted roads and tracks to get all the way to the Eastern-most district of Lautem. The 2011 Tour will leave behind last year's mountainous terrain to instead take in the gorgeous beaches and coastal landscapes of the East.
Prize money for 2011 will be in excess of US$100,000 with the first male and female racers taking $15,000 each. Race participation is limited to 350, including 80 Timorese riders.
For more information about the race, visit www.tourdetimor.com.