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Cyclist Sahil Kumar ruled out of Track Asia Cup

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Hosts India were dealt a major blow ahead of the third edition of the Track Asia Cup, which gets underway from Wednesday at the Indira Gandhi sports complex velodrome here, after World No.6 cyclist Sahil Kumar was ruled out due to an injury.

Kumar, who suffered the injury during a training camp on Monday had formerly won the Asia Track Cup in Bangkok.

Commenting on his injury, India coach R.K. Sharma said: "It is very unfortunate that our star performer will not be able to take part in this year's event, we will definitely miss him. But injury is a major part of any sport, we will hope that Sahil recovers fast and can join us for the next championship."

Though Kumar is ruled out, India will see a comparatively large contingent taking part in the event this year, which also is the qualifier for World Championship.

All eyes will, however, be on Deborah Herold, who having suffered an injury last year, still managed to grab five medals and is raring to go for some more this season.

"Deborah, undoubtedly is our key athlete and our hopes rest on her. However, this time we can expect a lot of medals from the junior team as well, who are very talented and passionate about the sport. We have a bigger contingent this year, and thus our hopes in the medal tally have also increased," Sharma said.

Deborah, a tsunami survivor from Andaman and Nicobar Islands, has shown consistent improvement in timings after she was picked up by the Cycling Federation of India (CFI) as a junior. She has now risen to be ranked 6th in the world in the time trial events.

Coach Sharma expected an increase in India's medals tally, which dropped last year to 11 medals compared to the 18 in 2014.

"Our target this year will be majorly to improve our medal tally from last year. This year Indian cyclists will face more competition since the countries taking part have also risen to 12," he said.

India being the host is also allowed to get in an extra team of cyclists, which would include the young cyclists that have been under training at the Sports Authority of India National Cycling Academy (SAINCA).

Besides India and SAINCA, 11 other countries will take part in the event. They are Iran, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kazakhastan, Hong Kong, Uzbekistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Macau, Malaysia and Pakistan, who had refused to take part last year.