Tour de Timor 2012

The Tour Begins - Stage One

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Peter Wall | September 10 2012 | 1 comment

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The Jungle Run crew was up at 3:30am this morning to start our coverage of the 2012 Tour de Timor (that’s not a misprint, 3:30!). By 4:30, cars were packed, crew were fed, and our work began in earnest. Jungle Run founder Joe Yaggi, sound man Wil Hemmerle, and the editing and production team left the Timor Lodge for the finish line in the advance media convoy at 5:30am – half an hour later than planned – but with still enough time to get to the finish line to set up.

After a short speech from the newly elected Timor Leste President Taur Matan Ruak, the race began at 7:00am. 300 plus riders began the 6-day odyssey, decked out in their team colours, many sporting flags from their home countries. Quite a sight.

All this will be well documented. Nine still photographers are here covering the Tour, and two of them were on the back of motorbikes today. Here’s a shot of Australian Zoe Morley, here shooting the Tour for the second time.

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Six videographers were on motorbikes today, all shooting for Jungle Run. Intrepid tour veteran Jacqui Hocking, newcomer Chris Knight, myself (Peter Wall), cinematographer Patrick Lavaud, Jungle Run Balinese shooter Gusti Ketut Oka, and local Timorese freelancer Armando Barro Soares.

I rode behind Sean Burrell, the event director and expert motorbike driver, and we hit the road about 30 minutes after the riders left, as Sean had to make sure various VIP guests were taken care of.
We quickly made up time, and filmed the field from tail to top as we blasted along the gorgeous Timorese coast. 50km in to the race we had caught up to the race leaders as they competed up the first major climb, a King of the Mountains point competition. Shortly after the climb, we were there to capture the major lead change of today’s race. Australian rider Jared Hughes caught the two other lead riders with about 45km to go, and went on a mighty solo break-away for the rest of the way for the stage win. A remarkable performance.

Riding backwards while filming on a motorbike is a new thing for me, and luckily I am the right size (5’8) to be able to pull it off. Stopping isn’t a problem, but quick accelerations and major bumps are. Luckily Sean and I had a two-way headset wired into our helmets, and he was able to give me advance warning of when I had to hang on. For the last 40km of the race today Jared Hughes was out at the front of the race on his own, with only us for company. Several times he tried to draft behind us, and I had to warn Sean so he could put a little more space between us and the rider, as drafting is illegal… But the day went well, we got the shots, and I’m looking forward to getting back on the bike to shoot day two.

Finally, tonight’s camp site. We’ve taken over the new market in the town of Mota’ain. The town is right on the border with Indonesia, and the market’s wall actually is the fence that separates the two countries! The food, media, and bike repair sections are housed in various concrete stalls, and the medical tent, the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre from Australia, have brought their own tents. Truly a small village of riders, media and support workers that has sprung up in the middle of… well, nowhere. Most people are in tents, including me, though some people will sleep on the floor of the market stalls. We’ll see how everyone feels in the morning!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, as the Tour will cross into Indonesia for the first time in the race’s history.

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