A total of 105 cyclists will be competing in the fifth edition of the Hero MTB Himalaya Shimla edition that will start from this tourist resort on Friday, event organisers said on Wednesday.
The event, which will also see participation from Germany, Belgium and Hungary, will be flagged off by Brigadier S. K. Lama, who heads the Army Training Command, also known as ARTRAC based here.
The riders will pedal their way through uphill tracks, speedy downhill tracks, village - back roads, meadows and jeep tracks as they travel around 120 kilometre in two days, Mohit Sood, president of the local Himalayan Adventure Sports and Tourism Promotion Association (HASTPA), which organises the event, told reporters.
For the first time in the rally it won't just be riders that will be competing with each other but also the cities, he explained.
HASTPA has introduced the "champion city" format for the first time. Riders will be representing their cities and will be collectively competing on behalf of their respective cities.
Sood said there would be nine teams, comprising Delhi, Gurgaon, Chandigarh and Noida, that will enter the city championship. For a city to qualify for the championship a minimum of three riders must be representing that city.
"Mountain biking as a sport is gaining rapid popularity in India. MTB Shimla is one of the toughest sports in terms of the need for endurance and skill and requires a lot of mental and physical strength as well as training, " Pankaj Munjal, chairman and managing director of Hero Cycles, said in a statement.
There will be four categories at this year's race. They are open men, open master solo, students and open women solo.
The rally will pass through Tara Devi, Sheel Gaaon, Anandpur, Sadhulpul, Janedghat, Dochi, Kanechi, Koti, Mundaghat, Chini Bunglow and will finally culminate in Shimla.
German rider Sarah Appelt is one of the favourites for the women's title at MTB Shimla.
Having finished Hero MTB Himalaya last year, she is well aware and ready for the challenge this time.
HASTPA also organises the Hero MTB Himalaya every year, considered one of the toughest in the world.
Rider Devender Thakur, second runner - up in MTB national championship and winner of the last two editions of MTB Shimla, Shiven, under - 19 national champion, and Johan Bentick from Holland, who has scored well in MTB races in India, are competing in this event.
It will also see youngsters like Akshit Gaur, Sanchit Sood, Adhiraj, Rohan, Gaurish Shyam, in the age group of 14 to 17 years.