Billed by Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism as a “strategic combination of bicycle sport event and tourism promotion”, the 4th Tour de Singkarak is a well-budgeted joint venture between state and national government and the Indonesian Cycling Federation. 25 teams will cover 854 kilometres over seven days, on a parcours that is anything but sprinter-friendly.
TOUR DE SINGKARAK BACKGROUNDER
First held in 2009, Tour de Singkarak takes place in the Indonesian province of West Sumatra. The provincial government is a major partner in the race, providing prize money, media coverage, facilities in the start/finish towns as well as traffic enforcement. According to the provincial police department, 4,000 personnel will be deployed to ensure the peloton’s smooth passage. This bodes well for the safe and successful completion of the race, whilst the Tourism Ministry’s involvement should provide riders with the best West Sumatran culture and amenities; in turn, ensuring the race can be leveraged as a key tourism marketing asset into the future. Amaury Sport Organization (ASO, the organiser of the Tour de France) is acting as the official advisory committee.
Coffee fiends should note that some fine Arabica coffee bean plantations are based in this province. It will be interesting to see if team riders and staff can finally get a decent espresso in Asia.
West Sumatra lies just beneath the Equator, meaning temperatures are reasonably consistent year-round. Though May usually marks the beginning of the dry season, heavy tropical downpours can appear with little notice. Daytime temperatures usually peak in the low 30′s (°C), humidity will hover above 60% every day and night time presents cooler temperatures around 22-23°C.
Take a look at stages two through five; the mountainous course profile resembles no other race in the 2012 AsiaTour calendar so far, with the exception of April’s Tour de Filipinas. For riders who have consisted only on a diet of AsiaTour racing, this may be the first time they have encountered a category one climb this season. In flatter races such as Tour de Korea or Tour de Kumano, it has been relatively commonplace for overall classification winners to also rank highly in the points classification; it will be more likely the winner of Tour de Singkarak walks away with the KOM jersey.
Teams must have a minimum of four, and maximum of six, riders and four officials. 9 of the 25 teams are Indonesian, whilst 97 out of 141 starters are registered with national cycling federations within the Asian Cycling Confederation. 57 of all starters hail from Indonesia.
With a field comprising 25 teams, there will be plenty of opportunities for cycling fans to spot Indonesian riders they’ve never heard of, whilst watching out for seasoned campaigners from the nine UCI Continental teams that are competing. All previous editions of Tour de Singkarak have been won by Iranian teams – Tabriz Petrochemical Team in 2009 and 2010 (Ghader Mizbani on both occasions), and Azad University Cross Team (Amir Zargari, now riding for French UCI ProTeam AG2R La Mondiale) in 2011.
Three jerseys will be awarded at the conclusion of each stage:
Leader of General Classification – Yellow
Leader of Points Classification – Green
Leader of King of the Mountains (KOM) Classification – Polka Dot
A prize purse of IDR1,000,000,000 (USD106,000) will be split across various stage rankings (placings, intermediate sprint bonuses, KOM bonuses) and classification winners.
Tour de Singkarak’s official website and Twitter feed has been loaded with race information well in advance, though detailed information on the makeup of teams has been absent until the last minute (Cycling iQ received a scan of the start list 20 minutes before the start of stage). It will be interesting to compare what influence, if any, ASO’s involvement will have on the publication of TdS coverage across mainstream sites such as CyclingNews; other recent UCI2.2 races in Asia – such as Tour of Azerbaijan, Tour de Kumano and Tour of Japan – have received no, or delayed, coverage.
STAGES AND PROFILES
Stage 1 | Sawahlunto 77.6km
Monday, 04 June 2012 (starts 14:00 local time)
Stage 2 | Muara Sijunjung – Harau 124.5km
Tuesday, 05 June (starts 10:00 local time)
Stage 3 | Payakumbuh – Istano Baso 102.0km
Wednesday, 06 June (starts 11:00 local time)
Stage 4 | Anai Golf Resort – Bukittinggi 157.7km
Thursday, 07 June (starts 10:00 local time)
Stage 5 | Padang Panjang – Singkarak Lake 149.0km
Friday, 08 June (starts 13:30 local time)
Stage 6 | Pariaman – Painan (flat stage) 143.9km
Saturday, 09 June (starts 11:00 local time)
Stage 7 | Padang Circuit Race 99.3km
Sunday, 10 June (starts 13:00 local time)