Tour de trouble
The second edition of the Tour de India was marred by speed bumps, with delays, unruly traffic, missing children and vanishing cycles
They say all’s well that ends well, but what happens when an event starts off on a wrong foot and continues to have mistakes one after the other. That’s what happened on Sunday during the Godrej Eon Tour de India a cyclothon certified by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).
The event started off on a wrong note and the downhill slide continued as a series of errors riddled the event. The event, which had over 8,000 participants cycling their way from Bandra Kurla Complex to the sea link and back.
Steering into trouble
The event, which was flagged off from Bandra-Kurla Complex was delayed by around 45 minutes. If that wasn’t bad enough start, the logistics went awry when cyclists pedalling to the finish line had to contend with vehicles on the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. Organisers ID Sports had sought permission to use the sea link from 6 am till 10 am. However, around 9 am, the sea link was thrown open to vehicles and all of a sudden, the participants were left trying to make their way out of the dangerous and chaotic situation.
Organiser Dr Akhil Khan of ID Sports said that the route had to be cut short by 20 km to prevent bikers being put in a dangerous situation. “We had the necessary permissions to use the Bandra-Worli Sea Link from 6 to 10 am. However, with around six laps to go, the police suddenly opened the stretch to the public, an hour before the designated time, and soon chaos followed. Despite having all the necessary permits, drivers began using the sea link while our racers were still out there. I am going to talk to the home ministry to understand what went wrong,” he said.
Full-cyclothon participant Harpreet Singh complained of the chaos, saying, “This year’s event was lacklustre. The route was fine, but there was a lot of mismanagement causing a lot of problem to us. When the sea link was suddenly thrown open to traffic, the route was suddenly altered. Additionally, unlike last year where there were seven international teams, only four teams participated this year.”
To add to the confusion, participants suddenly had to steer away from the those who were participating in a 10-km marathon and amid all the confusion, two children who were part of the cycling event went missing for almost two hours, which led to the worried parents yelling at the organisers. Yesterday, the Pinkathon a 10-km marathon to create awareness about breast cancer was also organised.
Speaking of the confusion, Khan said, “The BKC police station delayed the start of the marathon that was scheduled in the adjacent lane, which led to a mess with the participants of the marathon and cyclists clashing at a juncture in Bandra.” Adding about the children, Khan said, “When the Pinkathon and cyclothon participants merged, the kids lost their way and went towards the Worli end of the sea link and came back after two-three hours. Thankfully, they were reunited with their parents.”
Where’s John Abraham?
But according to many at the event, it wasn’t just the chaos or the mismanagement, which was a downer. One of the most anticipated moments of the event just didn’t occur. According to their plan, brand ambassador John Abraham was supposed to have a race with international para-cyclist Stefan Voorman. However, the race never took place, disappointing a lot of people who had hoped to watch the race.
Where were the cycles?
According to the organisers, the event all went downhill when a truck carrying around 60 cycles, each costing approximately Rs 60,000, didn’t turn up at the venue. An organiser said they tried calling the driver of the truck but he didn't not answer. They added that they would file an official complaint with the Bandra-Kurla Complex police station on Monday. When MiD DAY approached Chandrakant Bhosale, senior inspector, Bandra-Kurla Complex police station, he said, “There was some confusion about the organisers not being able to provide cycles to the participants. But, the organisers haven’t lodged a complaint with us yet.”