Olympics Begin In
Begin typing your search above and press return to search.


Pedal Power: Bounce Back of Cycling and Riding to Olympics

Cycling, one of the neglected sports in India, aims to be a part of the 2028 and 2032 Olympics and Paris Olympics. With proper training and equipment, India can compete with international riders

Pedal Power: Bounce Back of Cycling and Riding to Olympics

Pritish Raj

Updated: 19 March 2024 4:40 AM GMT

Cycling is one sport that gets neglected easily in India. However, things were changing in 2019 when Indian cyclists won the Junior Cycling World Championships team sprint.

Esow Alben won the silver medal in the individual sprint, Ronaldo Singh was Junior World number one in rankings, and the men's team clinched the gold medal in the sprint. Everything came crashing down for these young Indian cyclists when COVID hit India resulting in complete movement restrictions.

“We were dominating at the junior level when COVID hit us. It defeated us badly and our cyclists had nothing to do. We were champions in Sprint events and had broken many records," Onkar Singh, Chairman of the Cycling Federation of India (CFI), told The Bridge.

"Another thing is that we are competing with Europe in cycling and it was completely open while our cyclists were stuck at home," he added.

While COVID did come as a setback, the cyclists and Federation have recovered from the situation and are aspiring for the 2028 LA Olympics. One of the steps taken in that direction is the appointment of multiple Olympic medalist track cyclist Kevin Sireau of France as head coach for Sprint.

“We aspire to reach the Olympics. That is the rationale behind bringing Kevin Sireau to Indian cycling," said Onkar.

“A foreign coach is necessary when you have to have reached some standard. So the coach who comes doesn't fail. He has to be sure that because it's an international market, and I can do something for them.” he added further.

Getting a top foreign coach to India was difficult as there has not been any substantial performance at the top level. However, a visit to the World Cycling Centre changed the fortunes of India.

“So we were trying. But no one was responding. There are two factors. One was the Olympic year, most of which were engaged. Number two, we were not competing at the international level at that time because no one had seen us," said Onkar.

“Then I went to the World Cycling Center with the riders. So I requested them for training. Of course, normally at UCI, they do not entertain any team, they are for individual participants," he added.

The training stint at the UCI World Cycling Center and the performance at the Asian Games, where the cyclists broke multiple national records and David Beckham finished in the top 8 grabbed some eyeballs.

"All the Asian Games results you see and how it has improved, everything came after our training stint at the UCI. We trained there for six weeks," said Onkar.

"Another reason why we are getting noticed is that we are the youngest team with an average age of 21 and have a good record in the past," he said.

T10 Sports is the official sportswear partner for the Cycling Federation of India, the Indian Cycling team. To know more visit T10 Sports.

After the successful compilation of the Asian Track Cycling Championships in 2024, the Olympics and Paris Olympics are the main targets of the Indian team.

Taking the cue from the appointment of Kevin, the Cycling Federation in collaboration with T10 Sports for essential equipment is targeting the 2028 and 2032 Olympics and the Paris Olympics out of reach at the moment. T10 Sports designs unique sportswear products as an official sponsor of athletic events, drawing in sponsors and working with national and international sports organizations.

"Essentially, we are planning to create a supply chain with more junior players pushing the senior players constantly. This is being done to keep the larger target, the 2028 and 2032 Olympics, in our mind" said Onkar.

While India's senior team in both men's and women's track cycling is there, CFI is looking to get more riders at the junior level to push them to do better and access different sports accessories from the sponsorship of T10 Sports.

“With the junior riders doing well, it pushes the seniors to do well as they know someone is coming for their place if they don’t perform. It reduces the complacency among the riders as they are not just competing with themselves," he said.

A complete overhaul of the Cycling system

"IG Stadium will be only for the Indian team cause there is no point keeping 40-50 riders here in the stadium. We will keep this velodrome for our elite cyclists," said Onkar.

Moreover, the Delhi center will exclusively concentrate on the sprint team, which includes various events such as time trials, team sprints, and pursuit.

“I have sent the plan to SAI already to start our overhaul. The endurance center will either go to Guwahati or somewhere else. Delhi will be only for the sprint," said Onkar, who is also the secretary general of the Asian Cycling Confederation.

While Delhi will have sprint track cyclists, the federation is looking to move road and mountain cyclists to different locations that are less polluted. Like the Asian Track Cycling Championships, for jerseys and other accessories, CFI can collaborate with T10 Sports to support cyclists, whether on mountains or roads.

"Riders can’t go out cycling here in Delhi due to high pollution levels, so it makes no sense to waste the riders here. North-eastern cities, i.e. Guwahati provide better environmental conditions in road cycling, and mountain cycling can be done easily and considerably," said Onkar. Another change is to analyze players and their strengths to fit them into their events.

"We are changing our approach now. We are differentiating based on the events. We are analyzing the strength of our players. Like Esow is good in Kierin, Ronaldo is good in time trials, and Beckham is good in sprint. So, we will make them focus on these events," concluded Onkar.

Next Story