Today was the second race in India, the Mumbai Cyclthon. It was supposed to be 12 laps of a 9km circuit that took in part of the highway beside the sea and a loop through the city. The roads were to be completely 'closed' however, we had the same concerns as the first race as people entered the road where they pleased.
On the way out to the course, official cars blocked traffic behind us and they could not overtake. The sound was amazing! Hundreds of cars beeping their horns in unison as they pushed and tried to get around. Motorbikes snuck through gaps and went past the peleton at 100kph as they were chased by officials.
We started the race, an hour late, and headed up a huge bridge on the highway. On the way to the top, we crossed 5 sets of ripple strips that sent water bottles flying everywhere again. Near the top of the bridge the bunch was pushing 60kph as we found locals at the top with bicycles taking photos. We screamed for them to move and one decided he would ride across the road. Amazingly, the entire peleton missed him. Well almost... a Radioshack rider clipped him and took a tumble.
At this point, the peleton decided it was too dangerous and stopped racing. We rolled back down the bridge to the start line where we complained to the race officials. They argued for an hour before deciding to make the race a hotdog criterium on the bridge and cutting out the city loop, much to the riders' joy.
This shortened the race to 11 laps of a 7km loop. The pace was again controlled largely by Liquigas and Radioshack as they attempted to set things up for their sprinters. The finish line was positioned 300m after a U-turn so it was going to be a true power sprinter's race. A small break managed to get about 400m on the bunch but were reeled in for the last lap. We all jostled for position before the final U-turn as the first few were the only ones with a real opportunity to win.
Robbie Hunter was one of these as he powered out of the corner and again to cross the line in first place. I managed to finish in the sprint but am just glad to say I stayed upright. With the racing in India over, I am relieved. The road conditions here are no where near suitable for a bike race and they are a long way from their goal of having a stage race in India.