Manali Khardungla Cycling Championship 2014 - Race Report
The Race to the Top of the World
The first edition of the keenly contested Manali Khardungla Cycling Championship ended with a flourish on the world's highest motorable pass, Khardung La. The first-of-its-kind race (no cyclist has ever dared to race on this particular circuit before, daunted by the tough terrain and extreme climatic and atmospheric conditions) was flagged off from Manali on 6th July 2014, and went through various stages, passing through Sissu, Jispa, Sarchu, Pang, Rumtse and Leh, before coming to an exciting finish at Khardung La. Only two riders made it to the final stage - Leh to Khardung La.
The Race to the Top of the World, which was supported by Wildcraft, saw high drama as the route traversed some of the world's highest motorable passes (or La, which is the Ladakhi term for a mountain pass), like Rohtang La, Bara Lacha La, Nakee La, La Chung La, Tanglang La and finally, Khardung La. The extreme weather conditions and low oxygen levels took their toll even on the experienced bicycle racing stalwarts from across the country, as one by one, they dropped out of the race.
Anil Uchil, an endurance cyclist from Mumbai, completed all the seven stages (with a total time of 39 hours and 53 minutes), winning the Baralacha-Sarchu Stage, the Sarchu-Pang Stage, the Pang-Rumtse Stage and the Rumtse-Leh Stage, and was declared the Winner of the inaugural edition of the Manali Khardungla Cycling Championship.
Nakul Singh, from Team Lifecycle Racing (Pune), who stood first in the Marhi-Jispa Stage, the Jispa-Baralacha Stage and the prestigious and extremely challenging final Stage (Leh to Khardung La), claimed the Runner-Up position. Nakul, who was the hot favourite to win the 2014 edition of the race, lost out due to unexpected bouts of altitude sickness, which left him unable to ride some of the key stages in the seven-stage race.