By Susil Premalal
The 22nd Tour de Sri Lanka Air Force cycling event will be restricted to just one day, the SLAF Cycling Union has decided. It will be held on March 7 from Colombo to Katunayake.
The Tour coincides with the 70th anniversary celebrations of the SLAF.
Held over three days (three stages) on the previous 21 occasions, Air Force Commander Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana decided to make it a one-day event because of the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.
The Tour de Sri Lanka Air Force is for both men and women. The men’s race will cover a distance of 160 km from Colombo to Katunayake on March 7 beginning at 8:00 a.m. from the SLA head quarters.
Starting in Colombo, it will proceed to Wattala, Ja Ela, Minuwangoda, Divulapitiya, Giriulla, Narammala, Kuliyapitiya, Madampe, Wennappuwa, Kochchikade, Negombo and finish at Katunayake near the SLAF base.
Since the 2020 Tour de Sri Lanka Air Force, no cycling events were held because of the viral outbreak.
A large number of entries were expected but now it has been limited to 180.
The women’s segment of the Tour de Sri Lanka Air Forcce will also be held on March 7 commencing at 10:00 a.m. The 76 km ride will go across Ekala, Minuwangoda, Divulapitiya, Giriulla, Pannala, Dankotuwa, Kochchikade, Negombo and finish at the Katunayake SLAF base. The organisers expect about 50 to take part in this race.
In the last three men’s races, Air Force riders from the South Asian region took part. Although Air Force riders from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal were invited for this event, they have not confirmed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to SLAF Cycling Union Secretary Air Commodore Kithsiri Leelaratne.
SLT is main sponsor of this year Tour de Sri Lanka Air Force while Peoples Insurance will provide insurance cover to all participants.