ISLAMABAD: Tour de Khunjerab Cycle Race set for June 27-30 is aimed at bringing the world to the Northern Area and encourage the youth of the area to become part of the development and improvement ventures carried out by the government of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) in coordination with the federal government.
A press briefing jointly addressed by GB Minister for Tourism Fida Khan, GB Secretary Tourism Asifullah Khan, GB Secretary Information Fida Hussain, GB Chief Commissioner Usman Ahmed and chief organiser of the race unveiled salient features of the Tour that has entered into its second year.
“We are eying more than one benefit from the Tour de Khunjerab. Popularising tourism and GB tourism sites is one of the objectives. Spreading positive image of the country and of the area is the other. We are also looking at opening up avenues for our youth, who look busy handling social media on their handy gadgets,” chief organiser of the Tour de Khunjerab said.
Usman Ahmed said that special security arrangements were in place for this big occasion.
“Special stress has been given on the security arrangements. Last year the first race of its kind went smoothly while this time around even better arrangements are in place for the Tour.”
The minister highlighted the beauty of the Northern Areas, saying that every effort would be made to open up the place for the world.
“Tourism is our area’s main industry. We would continue with our efforts to popularise tourists’ destination on a bigger scale. Organising Tour de Khunjerab is an effort in this regard.”
Almost 300km race would take around 70 cyclists from Ghulmat Nagar (Rakaposhi View Point — Gilgit) to Karimabad. This time around six cyclists each from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan would compete in individual and team competitions.
“Tour de Khunjerab is open to all. However, those countries which have registered so far include Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Only Afghanistan team was part of the 1st Tour last year,” Secretary Tourism Asifullah Khan said.
The race has already taken the tag of the highest altitude cycle race of the world. Tour de Khunjerab is the race that takes the pedallists to the height of over 16,000 feet that surely is the highest point for a cycle race in the world.
The first stage would take cyclists from Ghulam Nagar to Duikar, second stage from Duikar to Sost and then third stage from Sost to Karimabad, where the award ceremony will also be organised.
“The last stage of the tour (82.7km) is most demanding and tough and there is every chance that riders would feel difficulty and exhaustion finishing that,” the minister added.
The third stage will start from Hunza and, after passing through some iconic locations such as Attabad Lake and Passu, will finish at Sost. Most of the route for this stage will have temperature shifting between warm and cold. The finish location of Sost is expected to be cool like Hunza.
Besides four provinces and GB, teams from Army, POA, Wapda, SSGC, Bikestan Crank Addicts (open), Sri Lanka and Afghanistan would be seen in action. Serena Hotels are sponsoring the race.