Eighty-five colorfully dressed cyclists from Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and South Korea buzzed around Hun Sen Park Friday morning in a short competitive side race marking the halfway point of the 19th Open Ho Chi Minh City Television Cycling Cup.
The 1,500-km main event, which began in Ho Chi Minh City on April 18 and reached Phnom Penh on Thursday, will continue today through Takeo province and end back in Ho Chi Minh City on April 30, said Nuth Sa An, president of the Cambodia Cycling Federation.
Not only is it the first time local cyclists have competed in the event, it is the first time that Cambodia has been included in the 13 stages of the Open HTV Cup tour, Nuth Sa An said.
The South Korean team led the pack at the halfway point of the main race and is considered a favorite to win the overall event, according to announcers at Friday’s 45-km race around Hun Sen Park. However, Do Tuan Anh, 22, of the Vietnam National Team, won Friday’s race, with Malaysia’s Jasmine Roslem, 24, coming in second place.
Cambodian cyclists have struggled in both the cross-country and short races, with Kim Sovanna, 25, suffering a minor injury to his left leg after crashing near the Bavet border crossing.
“We are quite poor in the sport of cycling,” Nuth Sa An said. “We hope that our racers will get more experience after this event.”
Thong Khon, secretary of state for the Ministry of Tourism and chairman of the National Olympic Committee, said that the cycling race would promote tourism between Vietnam and Cambodia.
He added that better roads in Cambodia have made the country more accessible.
“If you want to visit Cambodia by bicycle it is now available,” he said. “You can even cycle from India to Cambodia.”