The 24 hour international bicycle race – Race The Pearl – is back with a collective of riders from the USA, UK, Australia, Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium, India and Sri Lanka. Tour De France Stage Winner and Yellow Jersey Holder during 2013 Stages 2 and 3 Belgian Jan Bakelants, UCI Pro Race Winner Piotr Havik from the Netherlands and Srinivas Gokulanathan who was the first Indian to complete Race Across America (RAAM), up the celebrity rider stakes in the race, which is now in its 6th edition. There will also be female riders from India and Sri Lanka. Agnes Safford from the USA, a Finisher of RTC, will be riding for the 4th time this year.
An official qualifier for the globally renowned ultra-distance RAAM cycle race that covers 4,800 kilometers in the USA, Race The Pearl will have nearly 65 riders cycling from the northern tip of Point Pedro to the southern tip of Dondra Head in Sri Lanka. The 600 kilometer route in Sri Lanka connects 100 cities and towns and as well as about 100,000 spectators along the route. It is one of the key high-octane ultra-distance road cycling races that RAAM organizers have selected to name as a qualifier. The race will be flagged off from Point Pedro at dawn on the 28th October and finish at Dikwella 24 hours later, on the 29th.
Speaking at a media conference, Race Director and Organizer of Race The Pearl Yasas Hewage mentioned that 24 riders will be cycling continuously in pursuit of the RAAM qualification. “Some others will participate in a relay, racing in the five phases in groups or as individuals. Those who complete the race within the cut off time of 24 hours will get the prestigious Pearl Jersey, which sports a unique design inspired by Sri Lankan wild life.
Given that the route takes riders across both urban and rural terrain, riders also add value to rural economies with micro and small and medium establishments by engaging with business owners along the way and upskilling them with this interaction.
Hewage reiterated that Race The Pearl is the ideal brand marketing platform to promote sports tourism in Sri Lanka. “This race has continued uninterrupted during the last three years; the most challenging era for tourism. Having always attracted riders from around the world and being a RAAM qualifying race are amazing platforms for Sri Lanka’s niche tourism opportunities.”
The Race is organized by Spinner Cycling and partnered by Jetwing Hotels as Gold Sponsor. MAS Holdings innovated the Rider Jersey, Dikwella Hotel & Browns Hotel Group are the Finish Line Partner with Sol Fitness Resorts India connecting the two countries. Liv Foundation also joins in as a partner for international promotion of Sri Lanka and supporting Sri Lankan children. Media sponsors are Daily FT, Pulse and YES FM.
A sports tourism forum followed the media conference moderated by Chief Editor of the Daily FT Nisthar Cassim, discussing the potential of promoting sports tourism as a key forex earner and a platform for local businesses to thrive. The panelists RTP Organiser Yasas Hewage, Shenella Rodrigo and Shehaan Thahir of Assort Creative, Yeti Isotonic’s Nishelli Perera and Jetwing Hotels’ Dimitri Cooray were also of the view that Sri Lanka has the potential to be on the world tourism map as a hub for sports tourism.
Race The Pearl can be followed on www.racethepearl.com on Facebook and Instagram.