PESHAWAR, Oct 23: Pakistan Railways won the 11th Tour De Pakistan cycle race that finished at the Bab-i-Khyber, on Thursday afternoon.
The race began from the Mausoleum of Quaid-i-Azam on Oct 11 in Karachi and reached Peshawar on Thursday after passing through Sukkur, Hyderabad, Bahawalpur, Multan, Sahiwal, Lahore, Gujrat and Rawalpindi.
Lahore-based Mohammad Zahid Gulfam of Wapda secured first position, followed by teammate Dil Sher Khan. The third place was grabbed by Sahawat Shah of Pakistan Army.
A total of 68 cyclists took part in the competition, but owing to severe heat and bad road conditions, more than half the competitors left in the middle, because of dehydration and injuries sustained due to bumpy roads.
Winner of the 10th Tour De Pakistan Cycle Race, Haroon-ur- Rashid also developed some problems due to which he could not continue the race.
Two teams each from Punjab and Sindh and cyclists from Wapda, Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Army, SSGL, Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan and NWFP took part in an individual capacity.
Secretary Pakistan Cycling Federation (PCF), Idris Haider Khwaja, said that this race was the biggest cycling race after the Tour de France.
He said the 12th edition of the game has been planned to be organised on the pattern of Tour de France where, besides local cyclists, international stars would also be invited.
Khawaja pointed out that cycling was a great event, but due to official apathy, it could not be promoted in the country.
However, he appreciated the help of Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGL) the sponsors of the race, which he said facilitated the keen cyclists to partake in the competition.
A grand function was arranged at the historical Bab-e-Khyber, to welcome the cyclists.
On the occasion, president of the NWFP Cycling Association, Syed Ali Shah, said that the sport of cycling had been ignored at the cost of other sports. The cyclists, he said needed velodromes for practice which was only available in Lahore.
Moreover, he regretted that funds given to the PCA by the government was so limited that cycling could not be promoted extensively. He urged the government to allocate a larger amount to enable the federation to make cycling popular in the province.
The NWFP Governor Iftikhar Hussain Shah, who was the chief guest on the occasion gave away prizes and trophies to the leading cyclists of the competition and lauded the efforts of the PCA for having arranged the competition.
“Sport activities have far reaching effect on society and we should encourage sports for the benefit of society”, he said, adding that the government would leave no stone unturned to provide facilities to the sportsmen.
The provincial governor declared that he would recommend to the provincial government to build a velodrome for the cyclists and offered free land for construction of the facility in Khyber Agency to the NWFP Cycling Association.