Friday, November 20, 2009

Sprinters to rule at Tour d' Indonesia

Tour d’Indonesia organizers hope more competitors will make up for a shorter race and the absence of the country’s top cyclists.

Indonesia’s best racers are skipping the Tour, which begins on Sunday and runs through Dec. 5, in order to focus on training for the Southeast Asian Games. However, a new format and more new faces should still provide some drawing power.

The Tour will feature 11 Indonesian teams and nine international teams, including defending champion Tabriz Petrochemical of Iran, competing for the trophy and $100,000 purse. Last year’s race had 10 local teams and seven international sides.

Race director Sofian Ruzian said on Wednesday that organizers initially invited 15 international teams.

The 2009 edition of the Tour will be shorter than the 1,726 kilometers of previous years. The race, which begins in Jakarta and finishes in Denpasar, is now 1,513 kilometers after organizers eliminated one stage.

Last year’s penultimate stage, from Gilimanuk to Candi Dasa in Bali, was scrapped because of traffic concerns.

Sprinters may find more joy this year after organizers dropped a steep climb in Selo, Central Java, from the fifth stage because of safety reasons. Instead, racers will start the stage in Semarang and go through Klaten before finishing in Yogyakarta.

They will also have more opportunities to show their speed after the number of sprint events increased from 14 last year to 17, including one in the 215-kilometer fourth stage from Purwokerto to Semarang.

“That will improve our chances to win something,” said DKI Jakarta Club sprinter Rohmat Nugraha, the runner-up in the sprint classification in 2006.

Organizers also hoped to hold three criterium events, but an International Cycling Union (UCI) rule change halted that plan.

“According to the UCI, an organizer may hold a criterium during a road race event only if it meets the requirement of a route over five kilometers,” Sofian said. “Jakarta’s and Surabaya’s criteriums are under five kilometers, but Denpasar still meets the requirement.”

The Jakarta and Surabaya criteriums will likely be changed to team time trials, but Sofian said that would be decided today. The Bali criterium in Lapangan Renon, Denpasar, will still be the closing stage.

International & continental teams:

Azad University (Iran), Japan National Team, Korea National Team, LPGMA (Philippines), Malaysia National Team, Plan B (Australia), Polygon Sweet Nice (Indonesia), Road Phils 7-Eleven (Philippines), Tabriz Petrochemical Team (Iran)

Local teams: Araya Sidoarjo, Benteng Muda Tangerang, Bintang Kranggan, Custom Cycling Club, DKI Jakarta Club, Dodol Picnic Garut, ISSI Jabar, Kutai Kartanegara, ISSI Solo, Putra Perjuangan, United Bike Kencana

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