Karachi (PR): Pakistan Army’s Asad Mahmood won the 142-km Karachi to Hyderabad National Men’s Road Cycle Race, reaching the finishing line in 4 hours, 19 minutes and 38 seconds. The race, organized under the aegis of Pakistan Cycling Federation was hosted by Sui Southern Gas Company’s organizing committee set up under the chairmanship of Lt. Col. (R ) Raashid Ahmed. SSGC’s Toor Jan (4:20:50) and Asif Junior (4:22:19) clinched 2nd and 3rd positions while the 4th position was earned by Army’s Sajid. Naimatullah and Habibullah of SSGC bagged 5th and 6thpositions, respectively.
6 cyclists from each team belonging to 3 provinces namely Punjab, Balochistan, KPK and 2 squads from Sindh along with FATA, SSGC, Pakistan Army and a combined unit of riders participated in the race.
A true spirit of competitiveness was witnessed in the race which kicked off from SSGC Head Office in Karachi and culminated at Toll Plaza, Super Highway, Hyderabad without any untoward incident. Zuhair Siddiqui, MD, SSGC, who was the chief guest at the opening ceremony, sent off the riders by customarily waving the race flag.
It was a major struggle for the cyclists to cover the stipulated distance as they had to battle strong winds blowing at the rate of 10-12 km/hr. The first group that broke out in the race consisted of three riders, one each from Army, SSGC and Sindh A who maintained their lead for considerable period of time. They were later joined by another group from behind that comprised of eight riders. The ultimate winner Asad Mahmood of Army maintained overall lead for most part of the race and finished the line first.
Speaking at the closing ceremony held in Hyderabad, chief guest Munawar Baseer Ahmad, President Pakistan Cycling Federation congratulated the winners however he advised them to improve their overall timings to be able to compete according to international standards. He reiterated that PCF will be organizing races in all the provinces that will ultimately help in creating teams that can successfully compete at international levels, besides setting up camps for road and track events to select national squads for international races. He said that cycling has a major role to play in promoting national integration.
President PCF added that it was the first time in the Federation’s history that authorities were decentralized and two new associations, one each for coaching and technical affairs were formed under a fair electoral process.
At the PCF General Council meeting that was held the previous night, it was unanimously decided to send show cause notices to the two member departments WAPDA and Pakistan Railways for backing out their teams at the last moment and instead sending them to a competition held by a bogus cycling body. It was also decided that if a legitimate reply is not received within two weeks, the voting rights of WAPDA and Railways will be suspended in PCF. The General Council also decided to debar the officers designated by these two departments for future representation in PCF activities.
The winners were pleasantly surprised when Syed Azhar Ali Shah, Secretary General, PCF announced cash awards for them whereby the winner received Rs. 20,000 followed by cash awards of Rs. 15,000 for runner-up and Rs. 10,000 for second runner up, respectively. Riders bagging fourth, fifth and sixth positions also received cash prizes of Rs. 5,000 each.