Three Himachal riders to capture European Alps

Shimla: After capturing the mighty Himalayas, three amateur mountain bikers from Himachal Pradesh are set to cross the European Alps next month, an organiser said on Sunday. The bikers will be competing in the 19th edition of the Bike Transalp that will draw 1,200 bikers from 40 nations. "Four bikers, three from Himachal Pradesh and a German who's settled in India, representing our club are participating in the Bike Transalp from July 17-13," Mohit Sood, president of the Himalayan Adventure Sports and Tourism Promotion Association (HASTPA), told IANS. Every year, HASTPA organises the Hero MTB Himalaya rally, billed as the third toughest mountain biking event in the world after Trans-Alps Challenge (Europe) and Trans-Rockies (Canada). Sood said the bikers -- Davinder Thakur, Shiven and Ashish Sood as well as Heinrich Such, a German based in India -- would represent HASTPA in the toughest amateur mountain bike stage race being organised by Ley Events GmbH of Germany. The event will cover 519 km spread over Austria, Italy and Switzerland. Two-time champion of Hero MTB Shimla, Devender Thakur, 22, said it was a dream come true for him to participate in the international event. "I am a little nervous to cross Europe's highest mountains but at the same time it provides me a platform to hone skills with world champions," he told IANS. According to the event organisers, the Bike Transalp's fourth stage has beautiful trails and crisp climbs. From the Passo Alpisella, the route leads further to the Umbrail Pass, where starts the single trail to Bocchetta di Forcola, the roof of the Transalp at an altitude of 2,768 metres. Sood said HASTPA, the organiser of Hero MTB Himalaya, has collaborated with Bike Transalp to promote mountain biking sport in Europe and Asia.