The state of cycling in India is nothing much to write home about. However, with the Commonwealth Games round the corner, things have started looking up with the government importing top-end bicycles for the athletes who would be competing in the quadrennial Games after decades.
There is scope for growth and a leading TV network has recognised it, signing a three-year contract with the SS Dhindsa-led Cycling Federation of India (CFI).
Sport 18, a division of CNBC Network 18, has signed a MoU for Rs 1.08 crore with the CFI for staging six cyclothons in a year. The deal is for three years and every year there will be an increase of 10-20 per cent on the initial signing amount.
Apart from the monetary incentive, the main feature of the MoU will be the live telecast of all the races, which will further help in developing the sport in the country. "The deal is for three years, and for the first year the federation will get Rs 1.08 crore. For the subsequent years, we will be get around Rs 1.20 and Rs 1.35 crore respectively," said a CFI source.
All the six cyclothons will be of national level and the first one is scheduled for September 26 in Chandigarh. The second cyclothon is scheduled at Bangalore on October 30, while the venues of the other four races are Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai and Delhi.
Of the Rs 1.08 crore, the federation will give prize money, ranging from Rs five to eight lakhs per race, and also spend on the boarding, loading and travel of the athletes. A sum has also been earmarked for the federation, which will be used for the development of the sport in the country.
"Apart from 250 cyclists, who will be competing for the prize money, we are expecting around 5,000 local enthusiasts in the event," said Rakesh Mohindra, secretary-general of the Chandigarh Association.
"The event will certainly encourage more and more kids to take up the sport seriously," he added.
On Aug 29, the federation had hosted a cyclothon event in Delhi and before that in Mumbai. Both the races were internationally sanctioned and carried prize money of Rs one crore.