The Track Asia Cup 2014, to be held at the IG Stadium Velodrome between November 21 and 23, is one of the most prestigious events in the UCI calendar as cyclists world around prepare for the less-than-two-years to go Olympics at Rio in Brazil in 2016.
The Track Asia Cup in New Delhi will see participation of about 100 riders representing seven teams, including India, in both senior and junior categories where our men and women riders will take part. The teams that have lined up for the New Delhi event are: Hong Kong, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan and hosts India.
The upcoming meet this weekend, which is a Class 1 event as certified by the international federation, UCI, is very important for all riders, more so to the Indian participants, as it will be held here in front of the home crowd.
The first such opportunity for Indian cyclists also provides the rare opportunity of garnering vital points by medalists who, in turn, can help themselves and their countries qualify for the Rio Games. These events, held in different parts of the world two years prior to the Olympics, are designed in such a way that cyclists can pick and choose from among them and participate in as many from their region. However, only a Class 1 event qualifies for providing points for the riders and hence the New Delhi meet gains in significance.
All foreign teams, particularly Hong Kong, Thailand, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, are sending their strong teams and India will have to work overtime to outperform them to finish on the podium as every rider knows the pros and cons of a meet this magnitude. The Indian team, which has been concentrating at a month-long camp at the velodrome’s SAINCA, will not want to miss on the chances provided by the home event.
CFI’s vice-president, Manjit Singh GK, recalled how the federation in recent years has brought in latest equipment and spares to support the Indian team. “In the past our cyclists had lacked latest and modern cycles and other support needed as compared to other nations where the riders have been performing well. We realized the importance and, as a result, today our cyclists too have the best of equipment and spares with on-the-spot repairing facility available at the velodrome. All these were possible with adequate support coming from the Sports Authority of India. And that also speaks volumes of our good display abroad,” said the CFI vice-president.
Talking on the occasion, CFI secretary-general Onkar Singh said that Indian cyclists have been doing consistently well over a period of time and he believed that they will utilize the home advantage. “Our cyclists, since our performance at home last year, have made bigger strides. In fact, our women riders have done well both at Incheon and at Glasgow, though they couldn’t finish among the medals. This meet is very important for all of us as our cyclists can not only showcase their prowess but also gather invaluable points,” said the CFI secretary-general.
National chief coach R.K. Sharma said how the month-long camp at the velodrome has helped the riders to shape for the home event. “Our riders are in good shape and confident of finishing among top of the podium. We have pinned our faith on both Amrit Singh and Deborah to help Indian cycling to new heights. They have been very consistent,” said Sharma.
India had in March 2013 organized the Asian Championships, both track and road events, successfully with Indian riders doing exceedingly well to finish with two silver and two medals. But since then our cyclists have won a silver medal as recently as in the Bangkok Track event where both Deborah and Kezia Verghese had combined well.
In fact, it is our cyclists’ dependable performance that has forced UCI chose New Delhi as one of the satellite centres in the region for promoting cycling with the help of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) which, in cooperation with the CFI, has set up SAINCA that has been functioning for close to six months now, informed Onkar Singh.