The air was abuzz with excitement and anticipation on the morning of the 27th of July 2016. One could see crowds gathering as far as the eye could see along the street lined with SLT banners, to witness an event that will go down in the history of Sri Lankan sports as the dawning of a new era for competitive cycling in the country.
Presiding over the flag-off ceremony, were the Honorable Minister of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure, Mr. Harin Fernando ,the Honorable Minister of Sports, Mr. Dayasiri Jayasekera, Chief Minister of Western Province Hon. Isura Devapriya, former mayor of Colombo Mr. A. J. M. Muzammil and Inspector General of Police Mr. Pujitha Jayasundara conveying their goodwill to the organizers and their best wishes to the participants. Chairman of Sri Lanka Telecom, Mr. Kumarasinghe Sirisena and the President of the Cycling Federation of Sri Lanka (CFSL), Dr. Amal Harsha De Silva were also present at the event along with a number of distinguished members of SLT’s senior management, the CFSL and the Sri Lanka Police.
Beginning on the 27th at the headquarters of Sri Lanka Telecom in Fort, the ‘SLT Speedup Sawariya’ is the longest cross-country cycle race ever recorded. The first day of the race saw a total of 169 male cyclists take off from Colombo, riding over 150.7 km through Panadura, Kalutara, Galle and ending the day in Matara. Teams taking part in the race included, the three armed forces, the police, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Super Wheelers, the Dehiwela - Mt. Lavinia Municipal Council, The Friends, the Civil Security Department, Win Wheel, Super Beru, Flying Wheel, Team Kelani, Pahan Silu, Sri Lanka German Friendship, Harindra, Meridian, Team Anuradhapura and 4 other mixed teams. The winner of the men’s race will walk away with a cash prize of Rs. 1 million. The total cash prizes for the men’s race exceeds Rs. 3.2 Mn.
The women’s race, which was limited to a single day, started off in Colombo as well and ended in Ambalangoda, having reached a total of 80 km. A total of five winners were selected from among the female cyclists and awarded cash prizes of Rs. 200,000/-, 150,000/-, 100,000/-, 75,000/- and 50,000/- respectively, with the overall female champion receiving a handsome trophy as well. The women’s teams included, the three armed forces as well as Super Wheelers, the Civil Security Department, Sri Lanka German Friendship, Rangiri, Lihini, Wroom, Team Kegalle, Team Kelani, Rantharu and Ranjith Anura.
Organized by SLT, the country’s leading telecommunications provider, the ‘SLT Speedup Sawariya’ came into existence with the primary purpose of developing and raising the standard of cycling in Sri Lanka.