The 24-year-old began the race on a high note when he won the first stage from Karachi to Hyderabad on March 8 and went on to win four more stages out of the 11 to get an overall lead in the race with the margin of three minutes.
‘A dream come true’
“I was chasing a dream and it came true,” Sabir told The Express Tribune.
“I worked very hard to make sure that I lift the trophy this year. I sacrificed a lot for it and it has paid off well.
“I waited for three years to get here. I knew I will win the event when I won the first two stages.”
According to Sabir, Tour de Pakistan is the biggest achievement for cyclists in Pakistan. Winning the title means that he will get a promotion at his job with the Wapda sports department and he can apply for international cycling races. Along with the trophy, Sabir also won the prize money of $2,500.
Meanwhile, Sabirs’s teammate Mohammad Ibrahim secured the second place in the overall individual rankings with the difference of three minutes and 20 seconds and Sui Southern Gas Corporation’s (SSGC) Sultan Aftab finished the race in 44 hours 38 minutes and 58 seconds to grab the third spot.
Army grabs third team spot
While Wapda dominated Tour de Pakistan, on day 11, Pakistan Army’s Mohammad Rafiq concluded the event with a win and assured the third position to his squad in the team rankings. He secured stage 11 from Rawalpindi to Abbottabad covering the distance of 150km in three hours 39 minutes and 23 seconds whereas Ibrahim was 10 seconds slower in the stage and Wapda’s Haroon Rashid touched the finish line in three hours 39 minutes and 43 seconds.
While Rafiq boosted Army’s team ranking, SSGC secured the runner-up spot, following team winners Wapda, who won the trophy for the quickest squad, courtesy their 39-year-old Rashid, the three-time Tour de Pakistan winner, who inspired his teammates and strategised their moves besides finishing the race on the fifth position.
“It feels good that I can still outrun much younger competitors,” said Rashid.
“Fifth position does not sound so bad for the oldest cyclist in the event.”
The event was featured by the sports departments of Wapda, Army, Pakistan Railways, Fata, SSGC, four provincial teams and Afghanistan as the only foreigner competitors.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2011.
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