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    The second edition of the MVS Coimbatore Criterium has multiple cities participating in a one-of-a-kind professional bike race

    CbeCriterium-140330-075746-Why should motorbikes and cars have all the fun? This is what Arjun Balu asked himself when he discovered the joys of recreational cycling back in 2010. “I started cycling instead of running, as part of my fitness routine,” says the Formula Ford racer, who drives for a team called Tiger Sport. Arjun along with his brother Sanjay Balu (who owns a bike store called MVS in Coimbatore) decided that a few hours of early morning riding around the city or the hills was not enough for cycling enthusiasts working towards becoming professional racers. Their answer was the MVS Criterium that they organised last March at the Kari Motor Speedway, with the help of sponsors Scott Cycles and ELGI Equipments. “The Madras Motor Sports Club allowed us the use of their timing equipment and it was a professional track race with the entire event dedicated to cycling,” says Arjun, adding that the second edition taking place this weekend at the track in Coimbatore also has Tissot Watches and Isuzu Commercial Vehicles as sponsors.
    Choose your race
    With close to 60 children requesting a race for kids this year, the organisers have obliged and included two categories for kids — ages four to eight and nine to 13. The next category will be the Under 18 for boys, which will see aspiring professionals taking part, while the Elite category is only for professionals. There are two categories for ladies, and this year will also see the first Masters category, for riders above 35 years of age. “The top three finalists of the Under 18 category are eligible for an Athletes Sponsorship Contract from Scott Cycles,” Arjun informs, adding that the Elite category will showcase the fierce competition of professional bike racers. This event that tests riders for their speed, has full support from the Tamil Nadu Cycling Federation, and has teams coming in from Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kochi and even the north. But while last year saw a participation of around 250 cyclists, the numbers might only see a marginal increase this year, thanks to a clash in dates with other events like the Auroville Marathon in Pondicherry. We’ll see you at the track!
    From 7 am to 3 pm on February 8. Entry at Rs 100 for children, Rs 400 for Amateur and Masters, `500 for Elite classes. Free entry for guests, with breakfast and lunch available. Details: mvscoimbatorecriterium.com

    Meet the participants
    While most of the cyclists from Chennai are participating in the Auroville Marathon this weekend, Gratian Govias’ Team Mongrels will be taking part in the MVS Coimbatore Criterium for the second time. “Four of my riders are taking part this year, of which Karthik Padmanabhan and Gokul VR are in their prime. They came third and first (respectively) in the 100km road race in Ahmedabad recently,” says team owner, manager and coach Govias. “The Coimbatore criterium is currently the only cycling track event in Tamil Nadu,” he adds.
    — Ryan Peppin

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