By Gregor Brown
Robbie McEwen and British Motorsport team made the transfer to Mumbai by bike today for the second leg of the Tour de Mumbai in India. The journey was safe and definitely with its Indian flavour
"Riding is really unique here, all of the sights, smells and sounds," said McEwen "People on horses, ox carts, motorbikes with three people on them... After 16 years, I thought I had seen it all, but now I truly have."
The Australian of team RadioShack led team-mates Robert Hunter and Ben Hermans. Britain's Motorpoint and South Africa's team Bonitas joined them.
The group stopped mid-way on the 135-kilometre journey from Nashik so Hunter could help Hermans change a punctured tubular tyre. Near Mumbai, they jumped into a following bus to complete the journey to the five-star Trident Hotel.
"It was a great ride," said Motorpoint's team manager, Malcolm Elliott. "We could have gone all the way into Mumbai centre, but only if you had a death wish."
"I've been to India now, I've got the T-shirt. It's been a great experience, the only thing that would make me happier is if I win tomorrow," added McEwen.
McEwen is the race favourite along with Italian Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) for the 104.4-kilometre race tomorrow in Mumbai. He finished second to Viviani yesterday at the race in Nashik.
The Tour de Mumbai marks McEwen's first trip to India. He is enjoying the sights, but also being an ambassador for the sport. "It's unlike cricket, where you have to pay. Cycling is free, a sport for the people - and there are plenty of people here!"
"Cycling is a unique sport. I for sure want to return to organise this next year," explained Race Director David McQuaid.
The Tour de Mumbai is in its second year and already a success. The riders, despite the chaos, feel safe training and racing in India. McQuaid was pleased to see McEwen and the others embrace India and ride the transfer to Mumbai today.
"Alain Gallopin [RadioShack sports director - ed.] and the others asked about riding to Mumbai today. I was a little worried at first. I was happy that they wanted to ride and trusted our setup," added McQuaid.
"Robbie has been a fantastic ambassador for this race. I am sure he would come to me if something was wrong.
"Would I recommend this race to other first division teams for next year? Yes, but then it would make it harder for me to win the prizes!" Said McEwen
Six thousand euro in prize money will be awarded to first overall after the two races. Viviani leads the race overall ahead of tomorrow's race.
Britain's Ian Bibby (Motorsport) and Ian Wilkinson (Endura Racing) are leading the two British teams in India tomorrow. Wilkinson finished fifth in Nashik yesterday.
Robbie McEwen relaxes on the transfer to Mumbai
Ian Bibby on his day off. The former national cross champion has a chance to again impress the big teams
Robbie Hunter rips off a tubular after his team mate Ben Herman puntured on the transfer
McEwen and Elliott pose for the camera
Transfer vehicle carries the riders bags and kit in to Mumbai as they enjoy the Indian sun
The transfer from the press car
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