Muhammad Naeem won the ninth edition of Tour de Sindh after finishing first in the final round of the race — from Thatta to Karachi — on Sunday.
The race, spread over 14 days and 1,600km, was the longest in the event’s history and crossed 22 districts and 14 stops between Gotkhi — the starting point — to Karachi.
The race was launched after a hiatus of eight years with Department of Sport and Youth Affair Minister Sardar Muhammad Bux Khan Mahar taking the initiative and ensuring that all the participants were provided with the best facilities and security throughout the event.
Handsome cash prizes were also awarded at each stage of the race to motivate the cyclists who had to endure scorching heat and extremely tough conditions to complete the event.
“We want to attract the youth to the sport of cycling and that is why we thought of holding this event. This race will surely increase their interest and bring a lot of new and old cyclists back to the sport,” Mahar told The Express Tribune. “Plus we wanted to show the world that Sindh is a peaceful place and that is why the race went through every district of Sindh.”
Mahar further said that cycling as a sport is dying due to a dearth of events. “Cycling is a major sport but many have left it because not many events are taking place. I am sure this race will increase their confidence in the sport,” he said.
The minister also revealed his future plans of holding bigger and better events in the coming years and also hoped to bring foreign players to the country to project a peaceful image of the province.
“This event was a huge success and we are planning to hold even bigger events in the coming years. We hope to attract foreign players to the event as well but we are aware that the security conditions need to be improved even more for that to happen. We will try our best to do that and hopefully have foreign players competing in our events in the future,” he said.
The winners of each stage were awarded with a cash prize of Rs10,000 while the second and third-placed players won Rs8,000 and Rs6,000 respectively.
The winner of the race was awarded Rs1 million, while the second and third-placed cyclists were awarded by Rs800,000 and Rs600,000 respectively.
Even cyclists who finished fourth and fifth were awarded Rs200,000 each.