Troops guard Delhi highway for cycling race
Last Updated: Tuesday, October 12, 2010 | 1:18 PM ET
The Associated Press
Hundreds of policemen, paramilitary troops, pole mounted cameras and helicopters are keeping a vigil on a stretch of highway that will host the time trial cycling race at the Commonwealth Games on Wednesday.
The uncompromising security has become part of the New Delhi event, which will go down as one of the most tightly controlled games ever held. Spectators, media, officials and players have been forced to go through several layers of police checks to ensure security.
The NOIDA Expressway was closed to traffic on Monday, days before it was to host the time trial race, and now resembles a curfew zone with only police vehicles speeding down the 20-kilometre stretch, barricaded by steel mesh walls. Local residents have been forced to make long detours to get to work.
Inspector General of Police Chander Prakash said that local police will be helped by federal paramilitary troops while helicopters will provide aerial surveillance.
He said the police have also set up closed circuit cameras.
Among the favourites in the 40-kilometre men's race is Scotland's David Millar, who will seek to end Australia's stranglehold in cycling events after they won 14 of 16 possible golds.
"That's my speciality and that's what my objective is," said Millar, who finished with a bronze in the 168-kilometre road race held on a circuit in central New Delhi on Sunday behind Australian Allan Davis and Hayden Roulston of New Zealand.
"I've loved being part of this team and doing this so I'm very proud of what I've done," said Millar, who was banned from competition for two years in 2004 for using an illegal blood booster erythropoietin.
He said he was thanking to Commonwealth Games Scotland for his selection.
"It's a big thank you for them believing in me," he said.
Cycling Australia high performance manager Paul Brosnan said world under-23 road race champion Michael Matthews, who competed on Sunday, would be rested.
"It's just a long season (for Matthews), coming off the world championships last week and the two time triallers in form are the two time triallers we'll start," Brosnan was quoted as saying by the Australian Associated Press. "We saw them as our best opportunities."
In the women's 29-kilometre race on the same highway, the favourite is England's Emma Pooley, who was down with a stomach bug earlier this week. She finished 34th in Sunday's 112-kilometre race.
She told BBC Sport: "Apparently it (the illness) only lasts 24 hours so by then I should be fine."
"I'll do my best, we'll see. I can't say what the result will be. You just have to ride as fast as you can, I hope to be feeling a bit better by then," the 28-year-old rider said.
The world time trial champion had helped England teammate Lizzie Armitstead to a silver medal during Sunday's race.
"I had a bit of an off day, I had been in bed all day feeling pretty sorry for myself," she said.
New Zealand's hopes will be pinned on Denmark-born Linda Villumsen, who recently finished third at the world championships in Melbourne, Melissa Holt, and Alison Shanks.
Canadians Erinne Willock of Victoria, Julie Beveridge of Calgary and Tara Whitten of Edmonton will race in the women's event.
Ryan Roth of Cassel, Ont., and Zach Bell of Watson Lake, Yukon are entered on the men's side.