L’ÉTAPE JOHOR RETURNS WITH A BANG TO DESARU COAST
True to form, L’Étape Johor by Tour de France presented by Majestic Johor returned with a bang for a second consecutive year to provide a memorable experience for more than 3,600 participants who thronged the exquisite racecourse of Desaru Coast over the first July weekend.
Interest for L’Étape dubbed “The World’s Greatest Amateur Cycling Event” was never in doubt, evident by the high participation from 47 countries who converged from all regions of the globe to Desaru Coast for the experience of competing like a Tour De France participant.
One of the main highlights of L’Étape Johor, however, was the plethora of festival activities that gave the participants’ an immense satisfaction of experiencing the event beyond the racecourse.
This included a memorabilia display by Tour de France, a French exhibition, pushbike competition, public showcase, new product launches, prize presentation and lucrative lucky draw prizes among others.
Those activities only served as the tip of the iceberg, as three other big L’Étape events drew thousands on Friday and Saturday. The first one was the L’Étape Wav Jam, an electrifying yet interactive experience of 12 local indie talents who vowed with their various music genres and immersive vocal chords that delivered all the right feels.
That was not all, as official radio stations hotFM and buletinFM joined forces to stage a unique mini concert on Saturday that included Akademi Fantasia top performing artistes such as Marsha Milan, Amira Othman and Amir Masdi.
It promised everything that was expected – incredible performances, infectious beats and a party atmosphere that got the audience swaying to the music and grooving to the rhythm of the beat. Both events were free, but provided priceless money can’t buy experience that helped to soothe the weary limbs of the participants.
The festival atmosphere also reverberated to the kids, who had the time of their lives at the world’s first L’Étape branded Pushbike competition at the L’Étape Johor Festival Village. More than 200 kids aged two to eight years old participated, and laughter and amusement filled the air as they raced to the finish line.
The excitement post-race continued to build with the epic after-party organized by Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast as participants mingled with refreshing drinks, accompanied by pulsating beats from the DJ deck.
As for the event itself, it unfolded as a competition like no other, and for South Africa’s Matthew Brittain it was extra special after he claimed THE RACE – ELITE category overall male champion, crossing the finish line in 3:17:40 seconds over 140 kilometres.
Brittain is amazingly also a 2012 Olympic gold medalist when he captured first place in men’s team rowing. The 36-year-old said the mentality he instilled in training for rowing helped him greatly when he made the transition to cycling several years ago. “Winning at the Olympics was an amazing experience product of hard work. The mentality and intensity for rowing is the same as training for cycling, and I am happy to have brought that same qualities to this race,” said Brittain.
“My gameplan here was to attack the leading pack after 90 kilometres. When I saw the opportunity at an uphill, I launched the attack of my life. I just put my head down and saw the vision of the yellow jersey. I had an absolutely amazing race, the roads were beautiful and the entire vibe was fantastic,” Brittain stated.
Success clearly runs in the Brittain household as his wife Alicia won the female category with a time of 3:22:14 seconds.
Meanwhile, the presence of national athletes Anuar Manan, Aiman Zarif and Nabil Sofian added to the competitiveness of the race, while former Minister of Science, Technology & Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin, radio announcer Fara Fauzana, comedian Johan Raja Lawak as well as AG from hotFM also participated in the 60km ride.
Organizers Muse Group Asia were over the moon with the overall atmosphere of the event. “We wanted to make this year’s event different from last year, which is why we worked hard to introduce these new festival events. We wanted to ensure that our participants’ experience did not just end after their race, but beyond that. To see everyone enjoying themselves not only gives us immense satisfaction, but also inspires us to continue creating cherished moments for our participants in the future,” said Muse Group Asia CEO Riduwan Matni.
The co-organiser, KPRJ Sports were honoured by the overwhelming support from the Malaysian cycling community. “We are proud to host this event for the second time in Johor. It has always been our commitment to grow the sporting community in Johor, and there’s no better way than to bring L’Étape Johor itself to the country to attract our community of cyclists,” said Yang Berhormat Dato’ Lukman Abu Bakar, Chief Executive Officer of KPRJ.
Johor Chairman of Youth and Sports Yang Berhormat Tuan Mohd Hairi Mad Shah, representing the Johor Chief Minister Yang Amat Berhormat Dato’ Onn Hafiz Ghazi, noted that L’Étape Johor has stamped its mark as a signature sporting event in the southern state.