The fifth edition of the challenging race that combines sport and tourism on a beautiful setting, the Tour de Bintan 2014 cycling race will take place from 7th to 9th November 2014 on Bintan Island, in the province of the Riau Archipelago. This year, organizers MetaSport added a new twist with the introduction of the criterium to open the race.
This criterium will take place in the southern, more populated part of the island of Bintan while Stages 1 and 2 are held in the north west part of Bintan Resorts, allowing participants to enjoy the different scenic attractions of this huge island.
One of Asia’s leading stage races for amateur cyclists, the Tour de Bintan (TdB) opened with a prologue time trial for the past two years, but the inclusion of a criterium – a short, fast and furious multi-lap contest – will change the dynamic of the tour as it tends to feature plenty of sprints. Although a sprint finish isn’t guaranteed in the TdB criteriums, this is highly likely, and with bonus seconds on offer for the first five finishers, the sprinters will be relishing the change.
The Criterium will take place on 7th November in Tanjung Pinang, the bustling capital of Riau Archipelago Province, some 60kmsouth from the Nirwana Gardens race HQ in the Bintan Resorts area to the north of the island. Placing the criterium in Tanjung Pinang is in line with MetaSport’s trend of expanding the race route into different areas of Bintan to showcase this dynamic event. For the criterium, a 3.4km-course has been configured in and around the historical colonial district of the capital.
For the competition, Tour de Bintan 2014 will be divided into category 1 (men), category 2 (men) Women Category, and Category 3 (Men). Aside from the category 3, all of the competition categories will be involved in the criterium. For recreational cyclists looking for a new challenge, the grand Frondo categoriies arededicated for those who just want to complete “The Big Ride”. Grand Frondo Cyclists have now the choice of three distances – The Double (250km), The Classic (150km) or The Challenge (82km).
Following the criterium, Stage 1 of Tour de Bintan will take place on 8th November, with the traditional Stage 1: a 150km slog that covers a large portion of the island. The stage starts with a festive feeling at the township of Simpang Lagoi, before taking the riders on a tour of the northern, eastern and southeastern roads of Bintan. It then cuts through the middle of the island to finish back at Simpang Lagoi.
Aside from a section along the coast just after exiting the “red road to hell” at the 35km mark, the route is seldom flat. The racers face no big climbs, indeed the highest hill sits at just over 50 metres, but the total elevation of 1,400m is testament to the relentless nature of the rolling terrain. Add in the heat, humidity and occasional rain associated with racing just north of the equator, and it’s clear to see why Stage 1 of the Tour de Bintan always produces a worthy winner. The finale is invariably thrilling given that the last corner is a sweeping downhiller which sees the riders, whether a bunch or breakaway, tear into the long, spectator-packed 600m finishing straight.
The race concludes on Sunday morning of 9th November with Stage 2, another road race through the northwestern portion of Bintan. While shorter at 107km, another rolling course plus a ratcheted up intensity as the race nears its conclusion, means for a thrilling day in the saddle for those at the sharp end of the respective pelotons. Stage 2 starts and ends at Nirwana Gardens, with a long and mostly uphill drag to the famous finishing line right outside the race HQ.
Aside from nearby Singapore, which is just a short ferry ride away,Tour de Bintan also attracts some of the best talent from around Asia and beyond. Among those flying in to challenge Scherwey, Dohling and Co for the major honors include 2011 champion and local favorite Heksa Priya Prasetya from the CCC Team, last year’s runner-up William Taylor Price from the Shanghai-based Specialized China, and the man who took third place in 2013, Tjarco Cuppens. Making a debut at the Tour de Bintan is a five-strong squad from the sure-to-be-competitive Perth, Australia-based Dome Coffees Cycling Team.
The island of Bintan, located near Batam island is a short ferry ride away from Singapore and Johor in Malaysia. Regular ferries ply several times daily from Singapore and Malaysia and also between Batam and Bintan. Today, Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air andSriwijaya Air operate frequent flights from Jakarta to the new airport at Tanjung Pinang.
Besides offering a vast swathe of wide-sand beaches, Bintan has a number of fully integrated resorts like the Nirwana Gardens, and Bintan Lagoon, that offer visitors fun and excitement, from lush golf courses, scrumptious cuisines at its many international restaurants , beach fun and recreation for the whole family to relaxing Spas. At Bintan Resorts you can ride elephants, fly over the island in a light aircraft, or take a boat trip into the mysterious mangrove forests of Sungei Sebung.
While at Tanjung Pinang, visit the remnants of the old Johor-Riau kingdom at Penyengat, watch the life of the Bajau sea gypsies, or go fishing on traditional kelongs fishing traps at Trikora Beach. There is also a serene Maria Grotto here, originally built by Vietnamese refugees.
For more information on the cycling race, visit the official website of Tour de Bintan 2014 at www.tourdebintan.com