E Nusa Tenggara gears up for Tour de Flores

So far, 13 teams, comprising over 100 cyclists from the US, Europe, Asia, and Australia, have confirmed their participation in the TdF.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), known as a province of 1 thousand islands, is currently gearing up for an international cycling race and tourism event, Tour de Flores (TdF), on the island of Flores, to promote its tourism globally.

The province offers a wide array of natural scenery, culture, ethnicity, handcrafts, ancient sites, and unique traditions that could be showcased to foreign tourists.

The NTT administration has decided to hold TdF from July 14 to 19 instead of July 25 or in May as scheduled earlier.

The change was made after some considerations, including from the Switzerland-based international cycling federation, Marius A. Jelamu, head of the NTT tourism and economic office, revealed in Kupang on April 17.

So far, 13 teams, comprising over 100 cyclists from the US, Europe, Asia, and Australia, have confirmed their participation in the TdF.

NTT Governor Frans Lebu Raya has expressed hope that the international cycling event would be beneficial to the public, particularly the residents of Flores Island.

"Preparations for TdF 2016 are short and not many people are ready. But this year, we hope the public are more ready so they could also enjoy financial benefits," he remarked.

He urged the local community to demonstrate hospitality to TdF participants.

"Friendliness and comfort are the main keys for everyone to make them return to NTT," Lebu Raya asserted.

Tourism event usually boosts development in the region hosting the activity.

For TdF, the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry has allocated a budget amounting between Rp30 billion and Rp40 billion per district for conducting road repairs along the Larantuka-Labuan Bajo route.

The cycling race will start from East Flores and finish in Labuan Bajo in West Manggarai District.

Labuan Bajo, which faces the isles of Rinca and Komodo, the worlds only habitat of Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) or giant lizard, has been designated as a priority tourist destination by the central government along with nine other regions across Indonesia.

The nine priority tourist destinations are Lake Toba (North Sumatra), Seribu Islands (Jakarta), Tanjung Kelayang (Bangka Belitung), Tanjung Lesung (Banten), Borobudur Temple (Central Java), Mandalika (West Nusa Tenggara), Wakatobi (Southeast Sulawesi), Morotai (North Maluku), and Mount Bromo (East Java).

The launch party of the TdF will be held in Lewoleba village, Lembata District, which is a small island situated southeast of Flores, formerly known as Lomblen island.

Lembata beach is famous for whale-watching tourism. Other tourist attractions in NTT are the three-colored crater lakes in Mount Kalimutu called Lake Kalimutu in the district of Ende, Lake Ranamese in the district of Manggarai, and the Maumere bay in the district of Sikka.

The route of TdF will cover Larantuka-Maumere (Sikka District), Ende District, Nagekeo District, East Manggarai District, Manggarai, and Labuan Bajo.

Meanwhile, the distance of TdF has been extended from 661.5 kilometers to 808 kilometers this year.

"There is a new route from Aegela to Mbay Town, Nagekeo District," Jelamu stated.

The distance was extended after a week-long survey conducted in cooperation with the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry.

Last year, 20 teams from 16 countries had taken part in the TdF that was held for the first time in May 2016.

Most of the cyclists had earlier participated in the Tour de Banyuwangi Ijen, which took place in Banyuwangi, East Java Province, from May 11 to 14, 2016.

The teams included Wisdom Hengxiang from China; KINAN CT and Ukyo from Japan; LX IIBS CT and Geumsam Insam Cello from South Korea; Terengganu from Malaysia; 7-ElevenSava RBP CT from the Philippines; Black Inc CT from Laos; Singha Infinite CT from Thailand; St. George Merida, Olivers Real Food Racing, and Swiss Wellness Team from Australia; and Kenyan Riders Down under from Kenya.

The tour started from Larantuka and finished in Labuan Bajo, covering a total distance of 661.5 kilometers, which were divided into five stages.

The cyclists began the first stage, covering a distance of 148 kilometers, of the race from the office of the East Flores district head in Larantuka and headed to Maumere.

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

At every stopover, the international cyclists were greeted and entertained by local artists who performed traditional dances.

This year, NTTs communication and information office has suggested that a media center be set up at every stop of the race.(*)

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