VN’s Premier Cycling Race Extended to Laos, to Tour Indochina

Cyclists start the HTV 2005 Race in Ho Chi Minh City (Photo: Tuong Thuy)

Ho Chi Minh City Television (HTV) has finished homework to organize the HTV Cycling Race 2006 in Viet Nam and neighboring Laos for the first time as from its inception in 1988.

The organizer considers this tournament the groundwork to develop a Ha Noi-Vientiane-Bangkok-Phnom Penh-Ho Chi Minh City competition in 2008 for the 20th anniversary of the race, the premier one of Viet Nam.

This year, the race will kick off in Ha Noi on April 4 and finish in Ho Chi Minh City on April 30 – the Liberation Day – as usual, said Nguyen Hong, vice president of the Viet Nam Cycling Federation and manager of the HTV Sports Division.

“The 2,300km race constitutes 19 stages, including four in Laos in five days. Each stage in Laos will not exceed 150 kilometers,” Mr. Hong said at an interview on HTV.

The HTV 2005 Race’s cyclists compete in the central province of Ninh Thuan in April 2005 (Photo: SGGP)

Notably, the racers will have to travel 220 km by bus from central Viet Nam to Laos on April 14 before competing in the stage from Paksan to Laos’ capital Vientiane the same day, he said.

The next day the competitors will have cultural exchanges with Laotians during the Water Festival of the Lao New Year. The activities will be broadcast live on Laos’ and Viet Nam’s national channels.

Besides Vietnamese cyclists, foreign racers this year are coming from Laos, Thailand and Cambodia, Mr. Hong said, adding all prizes will amount to VND500 million (about US$31,400), doubling the previous year’s.

Racers will conquer many mountainous areas and the best will be entitled King of the Mountain with a red jersey. Long mountainous routes will be divided into shorter courses, each with individual prizes, to make the competition more exciting, said Mr. Hong.

He and other Vietnamese sports officials examined the tracks late February and early March. Another trip started on March 19 for logistical tasks. All aim to assure success for the Viet Nam-Laos race.

In the first half of the 20th century, cyclists from Viet Nam and other regional countries vied in Indochina races, each lasting more than 30 days or so. Vietnamese cyclists like Le Thanh Cac and Vu Van Than won many of these races and admiration from competitors of regional countries.

After more than half a century interval, a race across Indochinese countries will be restored in the next few years.

Reported by Tuong Thuy

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