ABBOTTABAD: Dozens of cyclists pedalled into Nathiagali on Sunday as the last leg of a three-day Tour de Galiyat came to an end.
WAPDA emerged as the winner in the race which saw participation from cyclists hailing from neighbouring Afghanistan also.
Organised by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Tourism Corporation and the K-P Cycling Association, 90 spandex-clad cyclists from different departments including cyclists representing Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), Pakistan Army, Higher Education Commission (HEC), Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), Pakistan Ordnance Factories Wah, Sindh, K-P, Punjab and Balochistan participated in the race. A nine-member team from Afghanistan was also competing in the run.
In the first phase, cyclists set out from Peshawar, racing towards the federal capital. After resting in Islamabad on the evening of February 10, they set out for the second leg the next day.
They raced towards Abbottabad on February 11, covering a distance of about 144 kilometers. According to TCKP officials, Wapda’s Nisar Ahmed won the second phase while Muhammad Wazir of SSGC and Najibullah of Wapda stood second and third, respectively.
In the final phase of the race, cyclists set off from BISE Abbottabad on Sunday morning. Of the original 90, only 51 cyclists took part in the final leg as they aimed to lift the trophy in Nathiagali, just 36 km away.
Wapda, though would prove to be too strong for the competition. Najibullah, who had come in third in the second leg just the night before, covered the distance in just one hour 26 minutes and 41 seconds.
Habibullah and Niamat Ali, both from SSGC, took second and third place respectively with just a few seconds separating them.
Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani, adviser on information to K-P chief minister, said that the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government was trying to promote sports in the province.
As he handed out prizes to the winners at a local hotel, Ghani added that apart from developing new stadiums in all the districts, the provincial government has started a talent hunt programme at the school level, disbursing Rs100,000 to each high school in the province.
He further said that to boost tourism, the government had launched an anti-encroachment drive in Nathiagali while the government rest houses handed over to TCKP had been earning revenue. These funds, Ghani said, would be spent on further tourism promotion in the province.
Earlier, Ehsanullah Khan, an Afghan cyclist, said such events could help bring his country closer to Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 13th, 2017.