Cyclists won't risk Delhi practice | india | Hindustan Times
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Cyclists won't risk Delhi practice

india Updated: Sep 09, 2010 02:35 IST
Saurabh Duggal
Saurabh Duggal
Hindustan Times
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They were hoping to gain some home advantage by practising in Delhi before the Games, but all they came across were disadvantages.

India's 27-member cycling contingent was brought to the Capital from Patiala well ahead of the event, so that they could familiarise themselves with the route they'd have to take.

But bad roads, a near-epidemic of dengue, 4 a.m. wake-ups, the risk of being run over by speeding vehicles at any time and many more hardships later, they decided they'd had enough and shifted base back to Patiala.

By the time they boarded the bus to Patiala, only seven in the 18-member men's contingent were fit for training. Three had caught dengue and the remaining eight viral infections.

From their hotel in Karol Bagh, the cyclists would be taken by bus to Indira Gandhi Stadium at 4 a.m. so they could grab their cycles, and then be driven to the Noida Expressway, where they could practise, at the mercy of speeding vehicles.

"We were wasting two hours daily travelling by bus to the Expressway, and even then we weren't able to train properly. In any case, we couldn't train after 8 a.m. because of the traffic congestion," said a cyclist.

The dengue threat proved the last straw. "There was no doctor attached with the team to tell us how to prevent infection," said another cyclist.

"Not training at the Yamuna velodrome will affect our performance. But under the present circumstances, Patiala is a better option," said yet another player. Cycling Federation of India assistant secretary V.N. Singh agreed that under the present circumstances, this was the best option.