Men’s winners (L to R) - Prabath Madusanka(3rd), Sonal de Silva(1st), Chamod de Silva (2nd)
By Susil Premalal
Sonal de Silva of Sri Lanka Ports Authority and Udeshani Niranjani of Sri Lanka Army emerged champions at the 22nd Tour de Sri Lanka Air Force held yesterday to coincide with the 70th anniversary celebrations of the SLAF.
Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa flagged off the men’s race near the SLAF headquarters in Colombo. The 148-kilometre race which went through Wattala, Ja Ela, Minuwangoda, Divulapitiya, Giriulla, Narammala, Kuliyapitiya, Madampe, Wennappuwa, Kochchikade, Negombo and finished near the SLAF camp in Katunayake by the men’s champion Sonal de Silva in a time of 3 hours and 24.39 minutes.
Chamod de Silva also of SL Port Authority took second place clocking 3:24.47 pipping 2019 Kathmandu South Asian games silver medallist Prabath Madushanka of Navy (3:24.48) into third place.
A total of 196 national level riders competed for top spot in the first cycling competition to be held after nearly a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Women’s winners (L to R) - Dinesha Dilrukshi (3rd), Udeshani Neranjana (1st), Panchli Sulochana (2nd)
The women’s race of the Tour de Sri Lanka Air Force was held concurrently with the men’s event. The women’s champion Udeshani Niranjani completed the 76-km race in 2:19.54 which began in Katunayake and went through Ekala, Minuwangoda, Divulapitiya, Giriulla, Pannala, Dankotuwa, Kochchikade, Negombo and finished at the starting point. Air Force’s Panchali Sulochana (2:26.17) took second place in a photo finish with Army’s Dinesha Dilrukshi (2:26.17).
The Tour de Sri Lanka Air Force has been held over three days on previous occasions but on the advice of sports ministry and health authorities it was conducted as a one-day race this time by the organisers SLAF.
Ports Authority clinched the men’s team championship while SL Army won the women’s team title.
The presentation of awards to the winners was given by the Commander of the SLAF Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana.
The men’s and women’s champions received cash prizes of LKR 150,000 and LKR 75,000 respectively. In addition, there were awards from second to 15th place in the men’s event and second to 10th place in the women’s race by the principal sponsor of the competition SLT Mobitel.