ID Sports is attempting to popularise cycling in India with an event planned on the lines of ‘Tour de France’, even as the former champion Lance Armstrong’s drug saga continues to haunt the sport.
Christened as ‘Godrej Eon Tour de India 2012’, the three-stage competition will see both national and international athletes competing for the title.
“With this event, we want to change the perception of the masses towards cycling. It will also help in creating cycle culture in India. Moreover, it would also help us identify talent in the sport,” ID Sports CEO Akil Khan told PTI.
The Mumbai-based sports company has also roped in corporates such as Godrej, Hero Cycles and Metro Tyres to sponsor the competition and the prize money would be between Rs 10-15 lakh, he added.
The event will kick off with the Mumbai leg on December 2 and then move to Srinagar on December 4 and finally conclude at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida on December 9, Khan added.
According to the organisers, the event will see a mix of world tour teams, continental teams and presence from national federations as well.
“There would be 120 riders, 150 delegates participating in the race. Racers from 54 nationalities are expected to participate,” Khan said.
The organising committee of the event consists of ID Sports and Cycling Federation of India (CFI). The event is also being promoted by Maharashtra Cycling Association, Tourism Ministry, CFI and ID Sports.
The organisers, which conducted four ‘cyclothons’ in the last two years, plan to make the race a week-long event in coming days.
“When we started out in 2010, it was a one-day event; now it’s spread across three cities. Our goal is to hold a week-long event across India. We are now trying to pick locations, work with local associations to host a world championship by 2020,” Khan added.
Commenting on the company’s association with the event, Hero Cycles President (Urbantrail) Praveen Patil said: “Tour de India will be a major step towards building awareness and enthusiasm to pursue cycling as a serious sport and not just limit it to a hobby“.
It may be recalled that former cycling world champion Lance Armstrong, who successfully fought cancer, has been stripped of his international titles on charges of doping.