In addition to the Formula 1 Indian Grand Prix, the Buddh International Circuit, which lies 50km southeast of India’s capital city New Delhi, also host bike races, but usually of the motored variety. Yesterday, Asia’s best time triallists took to the rare-as-hens-teeth-in-India-smooth parcours to contest the Asian Cycling Championships’ Elite Men’s Time Trial.
Images: Praveen Kumar Kalsan
Podium image: Asian Cycling Championships
Because the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) is 5.14 kilometres in length – not exactly the neat integer required for the ITT race course to be nice round number – the organisers threw out the orthodox 40km ITT “rule” and employed some creativity in the form of side service lanes to make each lap 14.2 kilometres, for a total race distance of 42.6km. Here’s how BIC describes itself:
“The 5.14km track has a combination of 16 corners, high-speed straights and dramatic changes in elevation that has been designed to provide ample opportunities for overtaking, which is what makes motor racing exciting. At the same time, in terms of adherence to safety norms and regulations, run-off areas, medical facilities, facilities for the media and overall infrastructure, BIC is among the best in the world.”
For some perspective of what this means in the context of a road cycling time trial:
Vast empty spaces may not trouble low-slung F1 cars too greatly, but they give way for very strong winds. This certainly was to add another dimension of difficulty for the 23 starters lining up at 08:00 on Thursday morning. In fact, Alireza Haghi of Iran, who finished in fourth place, told Cycling iQ’s roving reporter Praveen Kumar that the winds were “too strong”. That this statement should come from an Iranian rider – re-known for their diesel-engine prowess in flat, windy, conditions – betrayed how much wind was a factor in the results.
Cyclists from indonesia’s and Kazakhstan’s national squads pop out for a pre-TT warm-up.
Andrey Mizurov (Kazakhstan) won Silver in the Individual Time Trial Men’s Elite category. He covered 42.6km at an average speed of 49.14kph, clocking 52 minutes for his troubles.
Last year’s Gold medallist, Eugen Wacker of Kyrgyzstan started as a favourite, but could only manage third place on the deceptively-hard course.
Yulong Xu from China (who also races for UCI Continental squad ‘Holy Brother’) grimaces to an eight place.
Not only does gathering more than 40 nationalities together for a sporting event guarantee spectacular diversity, it also is great for bike-spotting. Salcano, anyone?
Ali Muhammad Sabir of Pakistan. Pakistan’s national cycling team faced many difficulties even getting to India, due to tardy visa issuance. Currently trained by its national army, with assistance from former national champion Nazakat Ali, the Pakistan cycling team will reportedly receive future coaching assistance from within the Asian Cycling Confederation.
Sunjae Chang of Korea secured fifth place. Chang was also part of the gold-medal- winning team pursuit squad at the Asian Cycling Track championships earlier in the week.
Ahmed Alawi (Bahrain) hurting.
There’s nice equipment, as demonstrated by Singapore’s Darren Low….
…and there’s also well-loved gear, as used here by Jacinto De Costa of Timor Leste. De Costa, who landed only a day before the event, finished second-last, but he told Praveen he was really happy to race in India. He will participate in the road race on Sunday also.
S Sli Asghar Jafari (Afghanistan) gives it his all.
Minh Thuy Bui, who finished ninth in the Men’s Elite ITT, is his nation’s reigning Men’s Elite ITT and Road Race champion. Look out for Vietnam’s presence in road cycling circles in years to come.
The victor. Racing against strong winds, Muradian Halmuratov of Uzbekistan won Gold with an average speed of 49.29kph
Left to right: Eugen Wacker (Kyrgyzstan, Bronze), Muradian Halmuratov (Uzbekistan, Gold), Andrey Mizurov (Kazakhstan, Silver)