2010 saw the Tour De Timor back for its second year, with organisers providing a course through the nation’s lush tropical forests, arid floodplains and highest mountains.
The five stage race concluded on Friday, with Australia’s MTB orienteering world champion, Adrian Jackson, taking home the $15000 prize for first place. Fellow Australian Steele von Hoff came in second just 29 seconds behind Jackson, with Malaysia’s Shahrin Amir a distant third.
420kms of racing over five days promised to test the 350 entrants to the limit, with temperatures over 30 degrees and high humidity experienced throughout. Recent rains led to slippery clay surfaces and the course included many epic challenging climbs.
Day one saw entrants leave from Dili with an official send-off from Jose Ramos-Horta, East Timor’s President. The 124km route to Balibo promised the fastest conditions for the event with primarily flat sealed roads. Australia’s Adrian Jackson won the stage by one minute 40 seconds from Malaysia’s Shahin Amir, who was one second clear of Australian junior Scott Liston in third.
The heat clearly took a toll on competitors, with thirty saline drips administered to riders suffering dehydration after the first stage.
As a destination, Balibo is famous as the location from which six Australian journalists documented the Indonesian invasion in 1975. These reporters were murdered by Indonesian troops and many reminders remain in the town, giving this day special significance.
Stage two was promoted as the toughest of the event, with early sealed surfaces broken up by rough and potholed dirt sections. After the initial road section the race moved to dirt tracks with long climbs and technical rutted clay surfaces. The 95km stage was won by Daniel McConnell from team mate Von Hoff in second and Jackson in third. Neil van der Ploeg came in forth, over seven minutes behind third place.
After the first two stages, Jackson led McConnell by 59 seconds with von Hoff in third. Van der Ploeg’s focus was moving to Felt team members von Hoff and McConnell, with his chances of defending his 2009 victory slim, sitting nearly thirteen minutes off the pace.
Day three’s 67km profile appeared to offer riders a break after the gruelling day before, but the severely potholed roads, river crossings and massive climb to the finish line ensured that this did not eventuate.
Von Hoff and Jackson continued their strong performance, crossing the finish line one second apart. Third place again went to Amir, with defending champion van der Ploeg ruled out of contention after losing nearly 30 minutes to the winners.
Day four warned of difficult climbs, with the stages 2000m summit at the top of a relentless 20km climb. The smooth tar surface came as some consolation, as did the long descent into Aileu which offered a break for weary legs.
Van der Ploeg proved on this tough stage that he still had the pace to challenge the leaders, crossing the line in first with teammate von Hoff one second behind. Jackson minimised losses to his overall lead coming third, just 31 seconds behind the winner.
The final day began at an altitude 800m above the finish line in Deli and 57kms away. Despite the elevation drop, this stage warned of climbs big enough to cause difficulties for fatigued riders. The thousands of cheering spectators and satisfaction of completing the epic event made this a memorable day for competitors.
Steele von Hoff took out the final stage, but only managed to take 72 off the required 101 seconds out of Jackson’s overall lead. This gave Jackson the overall win after five days of close, tough racing. With Jackson falling heavily near the end of the stage the result was in doubt until the very end, but he and his team’s hard work paid off with a winning margin of 29 seconds.
Amir filled the bottom place on the podium, with a massive gap of over 24 minutes separating second and third places.
The women’s division was won by Rowena Fry with a margin of nearly 36 minutes to second placed Naomi Hansen. Fry’s time put her 15th overall, just over 2 hours behind Jackson.
Jackson, also the winner of the 2010 Otway Odyssey, dominated the King of the Mountain classification, winning with 110 points to McConnell and von Hoff who tied for second on 64 points.
Felt won the team classification, with members von Hoff, van der Ploeg, McConnell and Liston all finishing in the top 10.