Tour de Pakistan attracts four nations

KARACHI: Four countries — Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Iran and Afghanistan — have confirmed their entries for the 15th Tour de Pakistan International Cycle Race which will be held from March 1 to 13.

“Saudi Arabia, Iran, Nepal and Afghanistan have confirmed their entries for the 13-day event while Bangladesh and Uzbekistan are also willing to feature in the race but we are unable to bear their air-fare expenditure as per their demand due to our financial condition,” the secretary of the Pakistan Cycling Federation (PCF), Khwaja Idrees told ‘The News’ on Tuesday.

He said that nine teams from the host country Pakistan will feature in the vital competition. These teams are NWFP, Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, FATA, Sui Southern Gas Corporation (SSGC), Army, WAPDA, and Railways. He informed that the race will start from the Pearl Continental Hotel in Peshawar on March 1 and will conclude at Quaid-e-Azam mausoleum in Karachi on March 13.

The cyclists will cover around 1655 km distance in eleven stages. Idrees said that a prize money of 10,000 dollars would be distributed amongst the top six finishers. He said that the arrangements have already been made and the PCF have received positive response from all centres regarding preparations except from Sindh. However, he said that NWFP Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti will be the chief guest during opening ceremony in Peshawar while in Karachi Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan will grace the closing ceremony.

To a question he said that until now the PCF is unable to get the support of any sponsor. Idrees said that he also met the top officials of the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and hope that the government will extend financial support to the federation.

Schedule: March 1: Peshawar to Rawalpindi 158km, March2: Rawalpindi to Gujrat 153km, March3: Gujrat to Lahore 115km, March5: Lahore to Sahiwal 160km, March6: Sahiwal to Multan 160km, March7: Multan to Bahawalpur 88km, March 8: Bahawalpur to Rahim Yar Khan 182km, March10: Rahim Yar Khan to Sukkur 178km, March 11: Sukkur to Moro 150km, March12: Moro to Hyderabad 163km, March13: Hyderabad to Karachi 153km.

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