New Delhi, March 15 (IANS) German cycling star Jens Voigt on Thursday urged Indians to take up cycling for all activities which can help the country in fighting pollution and also reduce traffic congestion in urban areas.
Voigt, who won the yellow jersey twice in individual stages of the Tour de France in 2001 and 2006, said it is encouraging to see a lot of fitness enthusiasts in the country taking up cycling but at the same time urged parents to introduce the bikes to children as early as possible.
“We want more kids on bikes, because these children on bikes later become grown-ups on the bikes,” the 46-year-old told IANS, on the sidelines of the launch of Trek Bicycle here.
“We can use the bike on way to school, on way to university, on way to work, and it is good for the environment, is good for their heads and it reduces the traffic on the roads. So, using bikes has like million good benefits and that’s what Trek focuses on,” he added.
Cycling in India is still at a nascent stage but Voigt is positive about transforming it into a cycling country.
“The first thing that comes to my mind is potential. When Trek first came to India in 2006, they sold just 2300 bikes in a year,” he said.
“Now, we sell 25,000 bikes in one year, so there is definitely a potential in the Indian market. And if, for example all companies work together a little bit, we could grow the cycle community bigger and better and that’s what we want,” he added.
On being asked about the potential of the handful of Indian cyclists, Voigt, a 17-time Tour de France contestant said: “Yes, India clearly has a potential to grow. I found the road quality here very good, so you ride your bikes easily on Indian roads.”
“Plus, we also provide cyclocross bike. So for every surface that you have in India, Trek has a bike that matches it. So clearly, I think cycling will become bigger and better and there is no doubt about it,” added Voigt, who retired in 2014 following the US Pro Cycling Challenge.
It’s estimated that Voigt rode over 8,50,000 kilometres during his professional career, and he continues to take on new challenges both on and off the bike to this day.
Currently in India as part of Trek’s foray into the Indian market, Voigt on Thursday unveiled a collection of road, mountain, and hybrid bicycles in the presence of Trek India’s country manager Navneet Banka.
(Tridib Baparnash can be contacted at [email protected])