Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Fifty cyclists who participated in the cycling and tourism event, Tour de Timor (TdT), reached the finish line in Kupang, the capital of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), on Dec 2, 2016, after traversing through six districts of Lombok Island.

Their arduous journey had begun on Nov 30, 2016.

NTT Governor Frans Leburaya greeted the participants who had started from Belu District, which shares border with the tiny country called Timor Leste, located in the eastern part of Timor Island.

Riky, a TdT event organizer, disclosed that all the participants were Indonesians.

All of them agreed that they enjoyed the tour very much, right from the start till the finish, Ricky added.

They expressed their gratitude towards the local inhabitants and officials of the six districts for their hospitality and warm welcome.

The cyclists were thrilled and challenged by the extreme topography of the Timor Island, which was very steep in certain locations, beritantt.com reported.

They looked forward to again participating in the annual sports event, and hoped more cyclists from many countries will join them.

Governor Leburaya promised to hold the TdT and Tour de Flores events annually to promote tourism in his province.

He admitted that the TdTs implementation witnessed some shortcomings this year and promised to improve these next year.

Chairman of the TdT organizing committee Welly Rohimone earlier explained that the participants started from Motaian border post, East Tasifeto Sub-district, Belu District.

From Motaian, they proceeded to Malaka District; to North Timor Tengah District (TTU) on Dec 1; and to South Timor Tengah (TTS); and finally arrived at the finish line in Kupang.

TdT was aimed at promoting Timor Island, particularly its tourism, investment potential, culture and traditions.

In Malaka District, the participants were seen off by Deputy District Head of Belu JT Ose Luan in Atambua, before leaving for Betun, around two hours from Atambua.

From Betun, they returned to Atambua and then proceed to Wini-North Timor Tengah (TTU) to enjoy the sunset in Wini.

The 50 participating cyclists included those from Banten, Jakarta, and East Java.

Rohimone, concurrently the secretary of the NTT tourism and creative economic office, expressed his regret that foreign countries decided to cancel the permission granted to their participants for reasons that he could understand.

The organizing committee had invited cyclists from several countries to participate in the TdT. Later, they announced that a number of cardiologists from Malaysia had confirmed their participation in the event, but then failed to come for a certain reason.

Timor Island is divided into two, namely West Timor, which is part of Indonesias NTT, and East Timor, which is also known as Timor Leste, with Dili as its capital.

As per initial plans, the event was to be organized jointly with Timor Leste to ensure riders could have a complete tour of Timor Island, starting from Dili and finishing in Kupang.

However, this plan could not be implemented this year as Timor Leste had organized its own Tour de Timor version last September, in which bikers from 12 countries had participated.

In fact, Timor Leste has been organizing this annual international biking and touring event since 2009.

Even now, the NTT administration wishes to organize a tour that covers the entire Timor Island.

The plan was discussed by the East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) officials and their Timor Leste counterparts, Welly Rohimone said on Dec 1.

NTT suggested that next year, TdT would be held in October, but it is still waiting for a response from Timor Leste.

Francisco MCP Jeronimo of the Timor Leste Consulate in Kupang lauded the plan to organize such a joint tour that will include eastern and western Timor Island.

"We can start from Los Palus District in Timor Leste and finish in Kupang City (NTT) or the other way. We just need to discuss the details," he stressed.

Tour de Timor is an official tourism program of the government of Timor Leste, he pointed out.

The NTT authorities hope to emulate the success of last Mays Tour de Flores (TdF) which took foreign and domestic cyclists/tourists on a tour around the Flores Island.

Even though it was the first year for the Tour de Flores, the event surprisingly attracted cyclists from several countries. The cycling race started in Larantuka, East Flores District, on May 19, 2016.

The cycling event, touring Flores Island, was divided into five stages covering a total distance of 615 km.(*)

Reporter: Fardah
Editor: Heru Purwanto
Copyright © ANTARA 2016