THE inaugural Tour of Borneo starts on Thursday with the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) hoping the cycling bug would spread all over East Malaysia.
The tour was supposed to have started in 2003 but some shortfalls led to a nine-year “postponement”. This time, the MNCF wants the race to pedal off on a successful and sustainable note.
“We need more UCI (International Cycling Union)-sanctioned races in the country, so there needs to be logical amounts spent,” said MNCF technical and competitions committee chairman Maniam Manikkam.
The Tour de Borneo is a UCI 2.2 status race which covers five stages and will feature 19 teams, organised at a total cost of RM1.8 million.
“When we first vetted the proposals, there were crazy amounts of RM10 million, then RM3 million to run the race, which was why everyone was uncertain about whether the race was going to happen or not,” said Maniam.
“We don’t need RM10 million to organise a 2.2 status race because it is mainly for the sake of development, to give more of our local teams a chance to compete in an international race.”
The race will be organised by Bayu Milenia Sdn Berhad, supported by the Sabah government and the Sports Ministry.
“Together with organising chairman Datuk Fredie Sua, we managed to work out a race on the current budget, which is more reasonable and it is going to happen,” said Maniam.
“We also managed to work out a way for the Tour of Borneo and the Jelajah Malaysia, which starts a week later, to complement each other.
“Many of the teams that are competing in the Tour of Borneo will also compete in the Jelajah Malaysia.”
Australia’s Genesys Pro Cycling, New Zealand’s Pure Black Racing Team, Brunei’s CCN Cycling, the OCBC Singapore team and the Suren Uzbekistan team are all competing in both races.
“It also benefits teams and their budgets if they can come to Malaysia and compete in a few races instead of coming for just one race, then heading back,” said Maniam. By Arnaz M. Khairul