Ace Mumbai cyclist struggles to get sponsors for big US race

Updated: 19 May, 2014 14:06 IST | Shashank Rao |

While some corporates have shown interest, others have declined to sponsor Sumit Patil, who is representing India at Race Across America, to be held in US in June

Sumit Patil is the only one representing India at the world’s toughest cycling race to be held in the United States in June this year. Sadly, dearth of funds could literally puncture this Mumbai boy’s dream and India’s chance of winning at this professional cyclist event called Race Across America (RAAM). This ultra-cyclist race will encompass 4,800 kms that needs to be covered within 12 days.

Cyclist Sumit Patil
Although Sumit Patil has approached a number of corporates for funds, no major brand has come forward to sponsor him. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Over the last six months, Patil and his friends have knocked on the doors of several corporates and multinationals asking for sponsorships which would entail to a sum of R40 lakh plus. Several big brands have been approached; while some have denied sponsorship, some are considering the offer. Over all, it has been a disappointing time for this 28-year-old speed racer who is struggling for funds.

Patil told sunday mid-day, “We have approached a lot of people. They haven’t denied us, but they have not agreed as well.” Patil, a resident of Prabhadevi who also aspires to clear his Civil Services examination, feels that cycling as a sport is growing in the country and he must be given a chance for the tricolour to flutter in the US.

His friends, who are doing their bit for getting sponsorships, say that most of the corporates claim that there is very little interest among Indians for cycling as a sport, which could probably be the reason for them being apprehensive. So far, no major brand has tied up with his cause, while friends and well-wishers have pooled in around R1 lakh, said one of his team members. As part of his crew, which is mandatory in such races, their job would be to follow Patil as he cycles throughout these 12 days.

Costly affair
Rs 15 lakh: Cost of equipments, tyres and cycles
Rs 10 lakh: For back-up crew and their vehicle
Rs 10 lakh: Air tickets for Sumit and his crew members
Rs 5 lakh: Required for his nutrition, diet and accommodation when in USA

Tour De France v/s RAAM
Tour De France (TDF) is a stage race where a cyclist covers a distance of 3,000 km in 19 stages over a period of 21 days, whereas RAAM is a non-stop transcontinental time-trial event where a cyclist has to complete a distance of around 4,800 km in 12 days. One has to ride more than 400 km a day during the course of the race. There are no stages and the clock always ticks in RAAM, hence the food breaks, sleep breaks and even toilet breaks are included in the final time of completion.

First Published: 06 April, 2014 09:45 IST

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