Swine flu takes toll on Himachal’s mountain biking event

September 25th, 2009 - 1:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla, Sep 25 (IANS) Swine flu has taken a toll on India’s ‘toughest’ mountain terrain biking event, Hercules MTB Himachal, as a majority of foreign participants have cancelled their entries in the expedition which takes place in Himachal Pradesh.
“Almost 50 percent of the participants from European countries have cancelled their entries. Most of them cited swine flu as the only reason for not participating in the expedition this time,” Mohit Sood, president of the Himalayan Adventure Sports and Tourism Promotion Association (HASTPA), told IANS.

The HASTPA annually organises the biking event in association with Hercules cycles and the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Department. This will be the fifth edition of the event.

Last year 79 cyclists, including 33 foreigners mainly from European countries, participated in the expedition.

“This time the overall response is good with 90 cyclists confirming their participation. But out of them, only 13 are foreign participants. Six participants are from neighbouring Nepal. The rest of them are from Canada, the US and Belgium,” Sood said.

According to him, some of the regular participants from Australia and New Zealand have also cancelled their participation.

Covering the most rugged and inhospitable terrain, Hercules MTB Himachal has been billed as the third toughest mountain biking event in the world, next to the Trans-Alps Challenge (Europe) and Trans Rockies (Canada).

The event will be flagged off in Shimla Sep 27. The cyclists will cover around 700 km in the next 10 days.

“The rally will pass through Shimla, Mandi and Kullu districts. The Jalori Pass (at 3,223 metres) in Kullu district is the highest point in the rally,” said Sood.

The Indian cyclists include teams from the Indian Army, the Indian Air Force and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.

The rally will conclude in Manali Oct 6.

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