2020 has been a strange year to put it mildly! Covid had all but wiped out any semblance of normalcy. As the restrictions eased, racing resumed for the pros. And as the pro season came to an end, the good folks at our Bangalore Bicycling Championships brought our season, alive with an ITT last month and Nandi Epic race this month.
I sat out the ITT because I decided not to trace this year. But, when my teammate, who recently entered into Masters category, Shankar Jayaraman is racing alone, it felt criminal to not be there to provide support, even if it was only moral support as I’m in no shape to do any useful work.
As the race got underway, I tried to induce a bit of pace at the front and tried to get others to work with me. Of course, no one wanted to waste any energy with Nandi hills on their minds.
The elite field had the defending champion, Sreenath Lakshmikanth of LBB, multiple time Nandi race winner, Kiran Kumar Raju(KKR), multiple time National champion and Wattbombs Elite, Naveen John, previous winner, Naveen Raj, strong riders like Dipankar Paul, Shaurya Kaushal of Kansaltant coaching, Adarsh Saxena of VeloAmici among others.
The masters field had Vivek Radhakrishnan, Hemendra Upadhyay of Team Crankmeister, Martin Mandrup of team VeloAmici, Shankar Jayaraman and Russell Bell of Spectrum Racing among the main contenders.
In the first 10k, a Dutch rider, Dirk Hennig rode off the front. Around 25km into the race, Dipankar Paul rode off the front. I was at front at that time and I thought it was not a very wise move from him. I slowed the pace down a bit to let the gap open up. But, team LBB was awake to that and Ben Joseph got to the front to ensure that the gap didn’t grow to much and that the guys were caught before the U turn.
After the U turn, there were multiple attempts by Sreenath and other main contenders to breakaway but they didn’t succeed. With about 30km to go, Sreenath managed to ride away while others watched. Dipankar digged deep to bridge up to him and caught him. With Sreenath ahead team LBB began controlling the pace and chase down any further moves by others. With not much coordination between the other contenders, the gap kept building and Sreenath and Dipankar got to the base with about 90 seconds of advantage. Once the peloton hit the climb, the action heated up considerably. Naveen John took off chasing the duo ahead. He was quickly joined by Vaisakh of Cyclopedia, Mysore.
KKR and Manigandan followed behind.
The solo break early in that day that lasted almost 20 mins came back to haunt Dipankar on the hill. Although he got together with Sreenath to the base almost 90 secs ahead, he couldn’t keep pace with him on the hill. Naveen John and Vaisakh caught him and went past him. So did KKR towards the end. So, he ended up 5th over all.
Sreenath was untouchable on the hill and won by a good margin, defending his Nandi Epic win from last year. Naveen John crossing the line! PC: Chenthil Mohan
Naveen John finished 2nd behind his protege, Sree! Vaisakh took 3rd with KKR finishing 4th.
In master’s category, Martin Mandrup of VeloAmici rode brilliantly to take the win. Hemendra Upadhyay took second followed by Shankar Jayaraman at 3rd.
It was another brilliant job by Bangalore Bicycling Championships team executing the race with all the Covid precautions.
It was a brilliant day with clear skies and amazing views to match the Epic nature of the BBCH Nandi Epic!