Tour de France sprinter Robbie McEwen and two of Britain’s best continental team’s, Endura and Motorpoint, will headline the Tour de Mumbai race tomorrow in India.
“It’s always good to travel to new countries,” said McEwen’s RadioShack sports director, Alain Gallopin. “Robbie took photos when he arrived. Though he has a lot of experience racing as a professional, this place is new to him.”
The Tour de Mumbai is India’s only UCI-sanctioned race. It consists of two 1.1-ranked races: 113 kilometres in Nashik tomorrow and 104.4 kilometres in Mumbai on Sunday.
McEwen led the Tour Down Under for one day last month in Australia. He is the race favourite with young Italian, Elia Viviani of team Liquigas-Cannondale.
“With small teams here, it’s hard to control the race. I have only five guys, and one of them is sick – Bjorn Selander.
“We don’t have big pressure on us to win, but we want to win. We are a ProTour [WorldTour - ed.] team and everyone here looks to us and Liquigas.”
“It’s important for our sponsor and for Indian cycling that we are here,” explained Liquigas’ sports director, Dario Mariuzzo.
“Viviani is going well, you saw that he won at the Donoratico [GP Etruschi]. He wants to do well here to be ready for Manchester. The World Cup there is important to make sure he is qualified for the London Olympics.”
RadioShack and Liquigas both compete in the first division, WorldTour. They face 16 teams: one second division, Team Type1, and 13 third division teams, including Britain’s Endura Racing and Motorpoint.
Motorpoint’s team includes Ian Bibby, but is down one because Pole Marcin Biaoblocki failed to receive his visa in time.
The Tour de Mumbai has progressed from its debut last year, when it was one race and ranked 1.2. Saxo Bank’s Argentinean sprinter, Juan José Haedo won the Mumbai race last year.