Shimla, Sep 1 (IANS) The 12th edition of Hero MTB Himalaya, considered one of toughest in the biking races in the world, will kick start from here this month and this time it will traverse through a new route, organisers said on Thursday.

The annual cross-country and multi-stage mountain biking race, which every year sees foreign participants too, will be held from September 24 to October 3.

This year for the first time the race will be travelling to Dharamsala, the abode of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, Mohit Sood, president of Himalayan Adventure Sports and Tourism Promotion Association (HASTPA), the local rally organising club, told IANS.

The race will also be touching the boundaries of the Great Himalayan National Park, one of the biggest national parks in India and is located in Kullu district.

Bir-Billing in the picturesque Kangra Valley — voted the second best flying site in the world after Lake Como in Italy — will also feature along the race route.

This year the race, divided in eight stages, will cover 650 kilometre with an elevation gain of 16,000m. On an average every day it will cover 60 to 90 km.

Event organiser Sood said the participants would pass through forest trails, off-road, broken tarmac, gravel, rocks, mud, sand, loose rock and unmetalled rural roads.

The race will cross Gadagufar, Narkanda, Luri, Jalori Pass, Gadagushaini, Janjehli, Mandi, Barot, known for the angling of trout, and will finish at Dharamsala.

In the last edition, World No.9 Luis Leao Pinto from Portugal, Cape Epic winner Catherine Williamson from Britain, nine-time German champion Reimund Dietzen and Sonia Lopes, the first woman cyclist to conquer the non-stop 500km Portugal Bike Race, were among the internationally-acclaimed riders.

    The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service.

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