The organizing committee of Tour de Siak international cycling race and sports tourism event decided to cancel the third stage after 20 kilometers into the event owing to thick haze in the region on Saturday.
"Owing to the condition, I have taken this decision prior to a doctor's warning. The best step is to stop this race," Sondi Sampurno, director of Tour de Siak, stated here on Saturday.
A total of 54 cyclists grouped in 11 teams began the race from Siak Palace but on reaching Tambak Rejo Village, the organizing committee declared that the race was halted.
The organizing committee had earlier held discussions over the condition of the field with the Indonesian Cycling Federation (PB ISSIS). Later, they waved a red flag, and the cyclists turned back.
They planned to hold a meeting to discuss whether the fourth stage will be held as scheduled on Sunday.
"The third stage of the race will not be repeated. Tonight, we will hold a meeting with the district head. If the weather remains like this, it will not be continued," he noted.
"When such a thing happens, it is out of our control. The forest fires do not occur in this district, but the haze reaches here. We can do nothing. In fact, yesterday, the air was clear, so we wanted to start early, but the reality is like this," he remarked.
Nur Aminrul Fachruddin Mazuki of the Trengganu Cycling Team from Malaysia emerged as the winner in the first stage. Reno Yudha Sansaka from the Indonesian National Team won the second stage, but the yellow jacket remains with Malaysia's cyclist.
Last Thursday, Riau Governor Syamsuar had lent support to holding Tour de Siak despite haze emanating from forest fires in the province blanketing Siak District.
Haze in Siak was not as thick as that in Pelalawan District, the governor informed Antara while monitoring fire-fighting efforts in Pangkalan Kerinci, Pelalawan, on Thursday evening.
"Siak is different from here (Pelalawan). In Siak, it is bright," he pointed out.
"The team of PB ISSI has informed me following a technical meeting with foreign teams that they have no objection if the race were to continue," he stated.
Safety tops the concerns of the United Cycling International and PB ISSI, as foreign cyclists are participating in Tour de Siak on September 19-22, 2019.
During the first stage covering the Siak-Mempura-Dayun Siak route and stretching 60 kilometers in length on Thursday (Sept 19), Indonesian and foreign cyclists wore face masks to protect themselves from the haze shrouding the district.