Shimla: The MTB Shimla 2018 mountain biking race ended on an exciting note as David Kumar and Sarah Appelt defended their titles after a stiff battle till the very end.

David, who had a lead of 11 minutes from day one, began the race rather cautiously remained within the range of Rakesh Rana, Ashish Sherpa and Isaac Rai who were all vying for top spot. David, though, backed his instincts and made amends during the last climb to take the lead and win his second title.

“Before the race I noticed that I had a huge cut in my tire,” said David after the race. “It was tubeless tire but still I couldn’t take the risk due to the terrain. If on the trail even a thorn would prick the tire then I would lose and it could be troublesome. Since it is tubeless I would lose a lot of time. So minutes before the race began I put a tube inside.”

“It was a risky idea since tubes can easily tear on such roads. So the entire race I was scared and cautious. I had to drive safe. There was no other option,” David added.

The 24-year-old now is tied with Devender Thakur who has also won the title twice in 2015 and 2016.

Tough route

The new route made life difficult for the cyclists. The rough terrain proved too difficult for many.

“The uphill climb was steep and rough while the downhill had lot of loose gravel and hence while speeding we had to be careful,” said Appelt, who bagged her third consecutive win in the open women’s category.

The 28-year-old German, who works in Manali and works as a tour guide, plans to return next year and defend her crown.

MTB Nanital event scheduled for April 21 and 22 is the next major event in the mountain biking calendar in India. However, the main prize remains the MTB Himalaya, which attracts many professional mountain bikers.