We hope that next year, the implementation would be better."
Larantuka (ANTARA News) - Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Rizal Ramli here, on Thursday, officially flagged off the first Tour de Flores being participated by 20 cycling teams from 26 countries.

The cyclists began the first stage, covering a distance of 148 kilometers (km), of the race from the office of the East Flores district head in Larantuka at 9 a.m. local time and headed to Maumere.

The cycling event, touring Flores Island, is divided into five stages covering a total distance of 615 km.

The participants are expected to conclude the race on May 26, 2016, in Labuan Bajo where they will be greeted by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) at the finish line.

The first stage is from Larantuka in East Flores District to Maumere in Sikka District, where the participants will stay overnight.

The second stage is from Maumere to Ende; the third stage is from Ende to Bajawa in Ngada District; the fourth stage from Bajawa to Ruteng in Manggarai District; and the fifth stage is from Ruteng to Labuan Bajo in West Manggarai District.

At every stopover, the international cyclists will be greeted and entertained by local artists who will perform traditional dances.

Most of some 230 cyclists taking part in the Tour de Flores had participated in the Tour de Banyuwangi Ijen held in Banyuwangi, East Java, earlier this month.

East Nusa Tenggara Governor Frans Lebu Raya has planned to organize Tour de Flores annually.

"I just discussed it with Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Resources Affairs Rizal Ramli, and the minister has agreed to make Tour de Flores an annual event," he noted after the minister flagged off the participants.

"This year, the preparations were made on a short notice, so there might be several shortcomings. We hope that next year, the implementation would be better," he affirmed.

He urged the local residents to support the event and help ensure that the cycling event would run smoothly and peacefully, and the participants are able to enjoy the journey.

Chairman of the Indonesian Cycling Federation Raja Sapta Oktohari lauded the implementation of Tour de Flores.

"When its proposal came, I thought Tour de Flores would be a national event. However, in reality, it is an international event and was immediately included in the calendar of UCI (The Union Cycliste Internationale). We are very proud to be able to organize this event," he added.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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