SARAJEVO, June 22, 2014 (AFP) – Thousands of cyclists swarmed through
Sarajevo on Sunday in a “Race for Peace” to mark 100 years since Austrian
Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination here sparked World War I.
The throng including 140 professional racers rode from predominantly
Bosnian-Serb eastern Sarajevo to the centre of the city, which has been
administered separately by Muslim-Croats since the end of Bosnia’s devastating
It was the ceremonial opening leg of the Sarajevo Grand Prix, sponsored by
the Tour de France, aiming to promote peace in a city that has so often been
the centre of conflict.
“This is a step toward bringing people throughout Bosnia together and this
is what we, cyclists, have already been doing for some time here,” Bosnian
Serb cyclist Zeljko Vukic told AFP.
Archduke Ferdinand’s assassination on June 28, 1914, coincided with the
Paris kickoff of the 12th Tour de France, noted Tour de France manager
“The race started from Porte de Saint-Cloud in Paris, and later in the
morning the archduke was murdered,” he told AFP.
After Sunday’s ceremonial ride, led by Prudhomme, the professional cyclists
from 40 countries began the race proper, the first international event of its
kind in Bosnia.
It will cover 140 kilometres (84 miles), passing through the country’s
three post-war entities populated by Muslim, Serb and Croat communities.
Some 100,000 people were killed in Bosnia’s inter-ethnic war.