Fervent prayers to the rain gods were answered in the Capital on Sunday morning, as the skies stayed clear and allowed the first Tour de Delhi to go ahead as scheduled. Since it was the first time an international road race was being held the Capital, there were the expected teething troubles.
Akil Khan, the man behind ID Sports, the company that organised the event, said, ‘We are thrilled. It's just the beginning for us, so there is no point saying we have done it all. But with this start, we are confident of making this a much bigger event in the next five years. We are planning to attract pro-tour teams and the best riders in the world.’
David McQuaid, the race director, said, ‘We are happy with the way the event was conducted and with the level of officiating. I think cycling can really take off in India, and this race has been a big step in that direction.’
As expected, the international race was dominated by the South Africans and the Dutch. Arran Brown finished on top in the individual category, while compatriot Malcolm Lange came in second. The third place went to Maint Berkenbosch of the Netherlands. ‘This is a very pretty and a reasonably challenging course. We look forward to coming back for the Games and competing in Delhi again,’ Brown said.
For the Indian team too, it was a good outing. Twelve riders completed the race, with specialist Amandeep Singh being in breakaway right till the end. ‘I had a good chance of a top five finish, but I had a puncture and a poor tyre change. But we are training hard, and will be aiming for a top-10 finish at the Games,’ he said.