Timor Leste in the Timor Sea north of Darwin, Australia lays claim to being one of the youngest country’s on the planet. Hence, hosting the 10th anniversary edition of the ‘Tour de Timor’ international MTB stage race is even more remarkable. Riders are now congregating in the nations capital Dili ready to start 5 days of hard, mountainous racing across the Eastern portion of the Island of Timor. This race has long attracted a high quality field from all corners of the world. This edition will be no exception with riders from Portugal, USA, England, Germany, Kenya among many other nations competing for the honour of ‘Tour de Timor 2018 champion’.
Timor Leste has a chequered past and has endured it’s fair share of war, instability and poverty over the past few decades. The former Portugese colony was occupied by the Indonesian government in the mid 1970’s before local tensions came to boiling point in 2002 when with help from the UN the sovereign nation of Timor Leste was formed. The country is now seemingly on the road to becoming a developed nation with many infrastructure projects underway close to the capital Dili. The streets and housing infrastructure is at complete odds with the wealth and oppulence of Australia which lies only a 1 hour flight across the Timor Sea.
Geographically the country is tropical with a beautiful coastline and dramatic mountain scenery that shoots skyward straight from the waters edge. Timor Leste is also home to some of the most stunning coral reefs in the world. With a distinct wet and dry season and year round temperatures well into the 30’s life in Timor Leste appears to be hard!
Wherever people have to work hard it is often reflected in their nature and perspective.. Locals in Timor Leste are very friendly and seem very eager to see the success of their race the Tour de Timor. The streets are abound with noise, music, horns and seemingly smiles abound. There is plenty of life on the streets here. The locals are also interestingly a deeply spiritual population, close to 97% of the population of Timor L’este classify themselves as Roman Catholic. Making them one of the most religious populations in Asia.
Given the topography, this years as with previous editions of the race is well suited to the svelte climber. Last years winner David Vaz from Portugal is back to defend his title and on scrolling the start list appears to be the stand out favourite for the yellow jersey again. The women’s field is open with the withdrawal of Australian Peta Mullens. Among those vying for victory will be German rider Birgit Hermann, Australian Regan Field and local rider Francelina Anche Cabral.
The unknown quantity lies however in the large number of local Timorese riders lining up. This is quite often their only opportunity to get some quality racing done. The local cycling federation help riders with bikes and maintenance as do the staff of Tour de Timor whom have been working hard preparing the bikes of the local Timorese riders ready for 5 days of racing in their homeland.
Stay up to date:
Proceedings got underway on Sunday with the annual ‘Ride For Peace’ through downtown Dili as a reminder for what this race symbolises.
Live results can be viewed from tomorrow here.
Check out the course maps and profiles on the Tour de Timor website here.
We will have daily updates on marathonmtb.com courtesy of team racer Justin Maddog Morris who will also be racing the event. With regular updates across social media also.