We’re sure many of you made the most of the long weekend by doing what you love. For riding hobbyists however, the recent weekend was a little more than that. After all, it marked the first amateur cycling event, held by L’Étape Malaysia, in Johor!
For those who have always wondered what participating in Tour de France would be like, they got to experience something similar on 4th June. Described as a race for both new and seasoned cyclists, L’Étape Malaysia offered a challenge to anyone who wanted to test themselves. And they certainly rose to the challenge!
The much-anticipated event took place in Desaru Coast on Saturday. Desaru Coast was apparently chosen as racing grounds as it has scenic open roads and challenging hills. Participants could either chose to take the 60km or 140km route. Both offered different levels of tests for endurance and stamina.
L’Étape Malaysia saw 4,700 cycling enthusiasts, both local and international, gathering to take on the challenge. The event began in the early morning and was officiated by the Menteri Besar of Johor, Datuk Onn Hafiz Bin Ghaz. The participants, split into several groups, were sent off in waves. Each rider was timed on their route, which was the determining factor in the competition.
It was not an easy ride. Midway through the race, a heavy downpour added to the difficulty. One participant of the 140km route, Alberto from Rio, claimed the rain obscured his vision despite his riding glasses. He added that the rain also posed a risk for more accidents. However, Patricia and Andre, who did the 60km route, stated the rain had been light for them. The couple had cheerfully said that they enjoyed the light shower.
Although many precautions were taken, some riders were taken out of the competition due to unfortunate accidents. Nonetheless, the majority persevered to push through and finish the race. For many cyclists, simply reaching the finish line was an euphoric achievement. Several later admitted that finishing L’Étape Malaysia was a personal best, a sentiment shared by many.
Of course, personal achievements aside, awards were given to those who beat out the rest with the shortest time. For the 140km individual category, Muhammad Elmi Jumari (3:11:11) and Yeong Zhen Yi (3:14:29) were crowned winners for the men and women category respectively.
“I certainly did not expect this, as I had only come to help (my friend),” Elmi said, with a sheepish grin. “I would like to thank the Royal Malaysia Police, as their employee, for allowing me to train full time for this event.” The 30-year-old won an all-expense paid trip and participation to the L’Étape Du Tour de France 2023.
Participants gathered after the event in the Festival Village to relax and recuperate. Although tired, the majority had a lively air as they discussed their performance with friends and took photos to commemorate the moment. The festival grounds had booths for them to explore, including events like French Music Performances and French Pastry Classes.
Overall, it was a truly unforgettable experience and one many wish to have again. Some participants stated they look forward to attending the next L’Étape, depending on its location and timing. However, a few have tapped out, claiming once was enough.
Well, congrats to all who participated and finished the race! For those who didn’t manage to complete their track, we’re sure there will always be more opportunities in the future. All in all, L’Étape Malaysia’s debut was a resounding success!