The Dash To The Line!!It was the final lap of the elite race. The lead group of four has been drilling it at a furious pace lapping and eating up most of the field as they went around the mile long circuit. Enaut jumped from the lead group of four with more than half the lap to go. With another 20 meters to go, with the other three riders fast approaching, he sat up and kept looking back. Was he unable to believe he was about to beat a national time trail champion to the line or was he perhaps over confident that he clinched it although there is still a bit of distance to go to the line? As the fans on the sidelines, some of whom kept biting into their nails while some were vociferously egging him on, the current national time trial champion, Naveen John(NJ), finally jumped and sprinted to the line. Did he manage to outwit the basque rider??
|The finish line action.. Pic: HRL
The Action Packed Thriller!
As the elite race that I was part of, got flagged off at the end, at 9:50am on the mile long circuit in Bharathiya City, some twenty four of us took to the line. Five riders from Hyderabad Racing League(HRL) came down to give competition to the local favorites from the Specialized Kynkyny Cycling Team(SKCT). There are other hopefuls like myself who made it to the line with the sole objective of lasting as long as we can before getting lapped by the leaders. Criterium races are time bound and tend to be very intense with a lot of accelerations out of corners. Our race was for 60 mins. If, in that period, any rider gets dropped by the leaders and get caught by them from behind, that rider is considered lapped by the leaders and it is the end of the race for that particular rider.
Since I’m not particularly great at taking the corners at speed and accelerating out of the corners, criterium races are the least favorite of race types for me. I tend to participate only because it provides a platform for me to get better at them. It is a sort of learning by fire. The last time I rode in such a field, I lasted 20 mins before getting lapped. My objective for this race was to see if I could hang on for longer than that.
The action was hot right from the word go and I found myself at the tail end of the field in the first lap. In the second lap, I made a conscious decision to move up and reached the head of the field. By the third lap the accelerations at the head of the bunch split the peloton into several small groups. The Basque rider Enautopoulus Gonzalakis, SKCT rider Naveen John(NJ) and HRL rider Jetharam Gat Jaat, formed a breakaway group. Behind them, Naveen Raj, Kiran Kumar Raju from SKCT, Ramswaroop, Parashuram Chenji from HRL and Gaurav Duggal formed a second group. I found myself with a third group with Aditya Kaul and SriRam.
|Enaut hitting the front in the breakaway group! Pic: Veloscope
The next few laps were a full redlined effort for me as I chased to get back into the second group at least. After a few laps, I saw that Adhitya was still on my wheel while we lost SriRam as we made it across to the second group on the road. By then Naveen Raj decided he needs to be in the lead group and started to chase on his own. Now, our group became Kiran, Ramswaroop and Parashuram from HRL, Gaurav Duggal, Adhitya and myself. Kiran kept egging the guys to take turns but the two guys from HRL showed all the enthusiasm of a dead cat to lead the bunch. They were quite content to sit on the wheels and watch the proceedings with occasionally gracing the front briefly. I tried to take to the front to give Kiran a break from time to time but it was him who was driving the group pace most of the time.
|Second group on the road with the third group(with me in it) behind….Pic: HRL
I noticed that my cornering and accelerating out of the corners wasn’t as bad as it was on previous occasions. I was trying to take cues from Kiran(he is an excellent MTB rider and has great bike handling skills) and was trying to take tighter and faster lines with a bit more confidence.
After a massive effort, Naveen Raj managed to bridge up and join his teammate NJ in the lead group. Now, Enaut, the two Naveens from SKCT and Jetharam from HRL were the lead bunch. They were fast gaining ground on our group with each passing lap.
Seeing this, the two guys from HRL, Ramswaroop and Parashuram, from our group finally decided to accelerate and Kiran managed to join them but the rest of us were left behind. I didn’t have the legs needed to make that jump at the point. Gaurav then took to the front and set the pace for a while to keep us from getting lapped by the lead bunch. After 50mins the lead bunch over took me and there ended my race. The second group of Kiran and the two HRL riders managed to finish the race without getting lapped.
In the final lap with more than half the lap to go, Enaut jumped from the lead group of four. He got a good gap on the group. With a dangerous sprinter from HRL glued to his wheel NJ was not ready go full gas to reel him in immediately and thus gifting Jetharam the win. With another 20 meters to go, with the three riders fast approaching him from behind, Enaut sat up and kept looking back. Was he unable to believe he was about to beat a national time trail champion to the line or was he perhaps over confident that he clinched it although there is still a bit of distance to go to the line? As the fans on the sidelines, some of whom kept biting into their nails while some were vociferously egging him on, the current national time trial champion, NJ, finally jumped and sprinted to the line. That late deployment of watt bombs would have done the trick if only the finish line was just one more meter further out. But, as the adamant paint on the road refused to move, he fell short by half a wheel length. Enaut, the basque pocket rocket of a power house has won it!
|Just about managing to hang on!! Pic: HRL
NJ finished second and Jetharam finished third right behind him.
Master’s race: A Masterful Show of Sportsmanship!
The masters field was small. 12 riders started the race. Right from the get go, Opendro of Cleated Warriors clan shot off from the group only to be reined in by the second lap. Around the third lap, Vivek Radhakrishnan of SKCT jumped ahead of the group and Ronny Schrijvers joined him after a couple of minutes. The two kept riding at the front for the rest of the race with Ronny at the front most of the time. Mohan Kumar of Spectrum racing was behind them followed by Arvind Bhateja of Spectrum racing in between them and a group of three riders behind.
Ronny, the strong Belgian diesel engine was predominantly driving the pace with Vivek taking an occasional short pull. They were way ahead of the rest of the riders when Ronny punctured. Vivek could have taken off and taken the win but decided to wait until Ronny got a wheel change and could ride again. Mohan joined them both for the last few laps. Towards the end, Vivek jumped again from the group of three to distance Mohan but then waited for Ronny to join him and crossed the line together with him. With that little gesture he preferred to show great sportsmanship by acknowledging the stronger rider and showing him respect rather than showing guile and race craft to take the win. We have seen this before at BBCH and BAR where the riders duel fiercely but also have a lot of respect for their competitors and the sport. Kudos to Vivek for keeping up the BBCh spirit!
Amateur Race! Class Act!
About 20 riders started in the Amateur category. After a few laps of riders trying to form a breakaway, two riders emerged strong and managed to get a gap from the group. Amudanand(Anand) from team Veloscope and Vishwesh Sangarya formed a breakaway and started to work together to increase the gap from the group that they left behind. The group behind(with likes of Mohammed Riyaz, Antonio Tardi, Vivek Kabuji, Akshay Raju, etc) wasn’t as cohesive as the leading duo and started to fall behind. With a few laps to go from the finish, Vishwesh left Anand behind and went solo. He was so fast that he managed to lap the peloton some 50 meters from the finish line and sprinted past them to take an emphatic win.
U-18 and Women’s Race:
With less number of registrations in each category, U-18 and Women’s races were held together. The U-18 race was taken by the Tarun(Mysore Cyclopedia,1st) and Sourav(Mysore Cyclopedia,2nd), Niranjan Iyer finished 3rd.
In the Women’s race, Fariyal Jamadar of SKCT won the race while Shilpa Deo of Spectrum racing finished 2nd.
About 10 kids were there watching the races and have participated in a race of one lap around the course. It was great seeing the tiny tots having fun on the course trying to emulate their elders and outshining them in the process.
Organizers and Volunteers:
Team Velohankans have taken the responsibility of organizing the race and did a great job of it. The breakfast at the end of the race was yummy. All the different category of races were organized very smoothly thanks to the organizers and volunteers on the day. Thanks to Bharathiya City for providing the venue and hospitality support. They have been a great support for BBCh over the years.
Watch the space at BBCH for the details of next races here.
Watch for photos from the race through the lens of the experts at Veloscope here.
Watch for action pics from the lens of Arvind Chenji at the Hyderbad Racing League here.