British teams Motorpoint and Eudura Racing are enjoying their first time riding in India. The last two days, they have been racing and training in Nashik, the holy city famous for the Kumbh Mela pilgrimage.
“The terrain is totally different,” said Ian Wilkinson of Endura Racing, “there are no similarities to Great Britain.”
Wilkinson finished fifth today in the first of two 1.1-ranked races. Italian sprinter Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) won the race ahead of Aussie Robbie McEwen (RadioShack).
The race marked the second day of riding in Nashik.
“As soon as we got here we could see it was so relaxed, everyone is so friendly, what a wicked place to race. It’s fabulous,” added Wilkinson.
“We had a great time training, the six of us only and no team car. We had a few punctures, but took in a lot of great sights. One particular, a two wheeled cart, with metal wheels and an ox. The man was standing up on the cart and just whipping away.”
Ian Bibby leads Motorpoint, the second of two British teams in India competing with WorldTour teams RadioShack and Liquigas. His experience was similar to Wilkinson’s.
“People drive a lot different than home, but you still feel safe,” said Bibby. “I don’t think they’ve ever seen anything like this before, so they like to have a good stare.”
Tour de Mumbai scenery. Pic: Gregor Brown
“I don’t think that the conditions are bad in India,” explained Viviani. “Many animals, a lot of small children. I trained only on one road, out and back from Nashik. The roads are good, the policemen control any problems.”
His Liquigas team skipped both the Tour of Qatar and the Mallorca Challenge, and targeted the Tour de Mumbai.
“For Liquigas it is important to be here because it is another continent. It is important for our team to race in all of them.
“Now, I will aim to win the Mumbai race on Sunday and then head to race the Omnium and scratch in Manchester.”
Viviani will be back on the road after the track World championships in April. The two track events this year are important for his chance to race the Omnium at London Olympics.