Dubai: Dubai’s Sajin Gangadharan plans to take up bigger challenges after bagging the overall honours at the Dubai Sports Council’s (DSC) inaugural Virtual Tour Cycling Challenge over the weekend.
Gangadharan, an engineer with Cisco Systems International in Dubai, finished ahead of Chris D’Amelio and Babu PD in the five-stage cycling event that saw around 500 participants in action across five days.
The Virtual Tour Challenge was held, using the DSC’s Dubai Cycling app, from April 19-23. Gangadharan took the top honours in the Challenge by covering a distance of 154.2km across the five stages, finishing at the top of the leaderboard in the Nad Al Sheba Stage (35.2km) and third in the Hatta Green Top Stage (28.1km).
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“To me, this was a real challenge where I could compete against myself and against fellow participants whom I could see. It gave me a lot of encouragement to pass fellow riders and push myself towards the longest distance,” Gangadharan told Gulf News.
“Winning such an event has only given me a better focus of what I want to do in the near future. I would gladly try and experiment and see how I can fare in cycling competitions outside the UAE to start with. Maybe I can participate in the Cape to Cape race [in South Africa] or even at rides during the Tour de France or so many other events that are held back home in Kerala,” the Abu Dhabi-born rider added.
Finishing at the top of the overall classification means Gangadharan will receive a specialized Allez bicycle from The Cycle Hub, while runner-up D’Amelio earned himself The Cycle Hub Gold Workshop Pack.
Gangadharan has been a regular competitor on the domestic cycling scene, both road races and mountain biking, since the past five years now. He has regularly featured in the Spinneys 92 race and the Mubadala Tour Challenge. But his first love has also been taking part in some of the top races on the Arabian Epic MTB Series, and winning some of these as well.
He makes sure he takes his nine-year-old daughter Shonali to the races as well, including the Ironman events and the annual Standard Chartered Marathon. More recently, Gangadharan was the lone invitee from India at the MTB World Cup held at City Walk Dubai. Though the exhibition event was held, the main MTB World Cup featuring a host of international stars, had to be called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“You will find me anywhere there’s a cycle race in the UAE. But now is the time for me to look at bigger challenges,” Gangadharan said.
Coming in second behind Gangadharan was D’Amelio, who proved to be a consistent performer finishing on the podium in each of the five stages. He took the top spot in the Hatta Green Top Stage (30.3km), and runner-up in the Al Qudra and Nad Al Sheba Stages, while he finished third in Jumeirah Kite Beach and Mushrif Park stages.
Babu PD, Jumeirah Kite Beach Stage and finished third overall with 95.2km against his name, will take home a pair of S-Works Road 7 shoes from The Cycle Hub, while fourth-place Jason Stott, winner of the opening Al Qudra Stage, will receive an S-Works Prevail Helmet.
Both the Be Fit Be Safe Sprint Challenge and the Virtual Tour Challenge were organised by Dubai Sports Council to give cycling enthusiasts from around UAE and the globe a chance to compete virtually, from the safety of their homes.
Virtual Tour Challenge (Overall Top-10): 1. Sajin Gangadharan 154.2km; 2. Chris D’Amelio 135.99km; 3. Babu PD 95.2km; 4. Jason Stott 91.9km; 5. Ali Al Marzooqi 68.1km; 6. Salah Al Zanbagi 36.7km; 7. Sami Anis 31.5km; 8. Ahmad Al Razi 29.6km; 9. Emmanuel del Rosario 16.2km; 10. Khuloud Al Dhaheri 8.9km.
Virtual Tour Challenge: Al Qudra Stage (April 19): 1. Jason Stott 91.9km; Chris D’Amelio 51.59 km; 3. Salah Al Zanbagi 36.7km.
Virtual Tour Challenge: Nad Al Sheba Stage (April 20): 1. Sajin Gangadharan 35.2km; 2. Chris D’Amelio 33.4km; Babu PD 33.1km.
Virtual Tour Challenge: Hatta Green Top Stage (April 21): 1. Chris D’Amelio 30.3km; 2-Babu PD 30km; 3. Sajin Gangadharan 28.1km.
Virtual Tour Challenge: Jumeriah Kite Beach Stage (April 22): 1. Babu PD 32.1km; 2. Ali Al Marzooqi 20km; 3. Chris D’Amelio 16.2km.
Virtual Tour Challenge: Mushrif Park Stage (April 23): 1. Ali Al Marzooqi 13.9km; 2. Ahmad Al Razi 13.2km; 3. Chris D’Amelio 4.5km.
Be Fit Be Safe Sprint Challenge: 1. Khalid Al Farsi 4m, 6sec; 2. Abdul Rahman Al Ka’abi 5m, 1sec; 3. Ghaith Al Falasi 6m, 7sec.