Excited crowds lined the streets of Dili Friday morning as the gruelling Tour de Timor mountain bike race finally drew to a close, marked by triumph and tragedy.
Enjoying an unofficial public holiday, women and children chanted "Timor-Leste, Timor-Leste" and waved flags as dirty, weary riders cycled towards the finish line in Dili after the last 88km stretch.
At a closing ceremony at the presidential palace, East Timorese favourites Franchilina "Anche" Cabral and Orlando da Costa claimed the national women's and men's categories.
Peta Mullins and Luke Fetch, both of Australia, won the overall top prizes.
Over six days, they battled more than 600km of treacherous hills, loose gravel, sharp corners, missing bridges and deep puddles -dangerous roads which tragically claimed the life of International Stabilisation Force solider Beau Pridue, of NSW, a 21-year-old army reservist.
Part of the ISF riders' support crew, he died in a vehicle rollover early on Thursday morning.
Commander Charlie Stephenson, said all riders had held a minutes silence before setting out on the last leg and the ISF team led the race for two kilometres to pay their respects to their fallen comrade.
The men, who also wore black arm bands, were rewarded with the inaugural Jose Ramos Horta trophy after being named the top team of riders from all security sector forces competing in the race.
"We set out to complete the race and even though we were devastated by Beau's death, we felt the most appropriate thing to do was to continue," Commander Stephenson said.
Crewman Dr Deane Prescott, who broke his collarbone on a dirt track in training and was unable to compete, said riders had cycled up to 100km a day every day for months to prepare for the event.
"When we're driving along the roads here, they're lined with people waving and yelling - it's fantastic," he said.
Dr Jose Ramos-Horta said the race was about engendering pride in the East Timorese and encouraging them to welcome visitors.
"It's part of my nation-building initiatives - it's not only for sport, but to promote peace and national unity," he said.
'The West Australian' is a trademark of West Australian Newspapers Limited 2013.
All rights reserved.
Select your state to see news for your area.