NEW DELHI // Australian cyclists Allan Davis and Rochelle Gilmore dodged wild dogs and monkeys on the stifling, empty streets of Delhi to win the Commonwealth Games men's and women's road races yesterday. The pair showed astonishing stamina to sprint to victory on the flat, winding course, which resembled a ghost town after a huge armed security presence kept the public but not the wildlife away.
"Apart from the wild monkeys and dogs, there was nothing too challenging," Gilmore, covered in dirt after completing the 112-km race, told reporters. "We were told there would be no wild animals but there were. "We weren't expecting so much dirt and dust. We could taste the dirt in our mouths but we didn't think about that." The men's 168-km race started at 1pm, the hottest part of the day, resulting in 78 of the 130 riders failing to finish as temperatures soared over 30°C.
"It wasn't an easy race," the softly spoken Davis said, perched against his bike before the medal ceremony. Davis outlasted Mark Cavendish, the favourite, of the Isle of Man, who was isolated in the final stages by a lack of teammates and could not stay with the Australian. "I was so proud to wear the [Isle of Man] jersey," said Cavendish, a frequent winner of stages on the Tour de France. "My teammates were great. I asked them to give 100 per cent and they did."
However, there was little crowd support for the riders as they cycled the scenic route past parliament and the presidential palace with only police, officials, volunteers and media on hand at the start-finish line to witness the race. There had been no official bar on spectators, but access was all but cut off by armed police, who blocked off roads, diverted traffic and closed down underground stations to maintain security.