HÀ NỘI — Former Asian champion Nguyễn Thị Thật is hotly tipped to defend her road race title at the 31st Southeast Asian Games this May.
But so far her training schedule, hampered by the COVID pandemic, has been no easy ride.
Now she’s back in the saddle and raring to go, along with her cycling teammates who will be aiming for five golds at the Games.
“I am confident heading to the 31st SEA Games,” she said. “I am determined to defend my title in the women’s road race.”
Nguyễn Ngọc Vũ, general secretary of the Việt Nam Cycling and Motor Sports Federation said their target is three to five golds which won’t be easy despite the fact they are racing on home soil.
“They will shoulder a lot of pressure to complete this target,” said Vũ.
“Based on technical terms, we expect the male riders in road race to make a bang but it will be difficult because the teams from Thailand and Indonesia are very strong.”
“But our women’s squad is good. Our best athletes, Thật in the road race and Đinh Thị Như Quỳnh in mountain biking, won three years ago and are currently in good form.
“We believe they will win again when competing on home ground.”
The road race riders will have a test at the Bình Dương Biwase Cup on March 4-13. Eight other team members will take part in the Asian championship in Tajikistan on April 23-28.
Meanwhile the men will sharpen their skills at the annual HCM City Cycling Cup on April 5-30.
The mountain biking cyclists will have a tournament on March 26 in Đà Lạt.
At the 2019 Games in the Philippines, Thật left Jermyn Prado of the host nation and Ayustina Delia Priatna from Indonesia behind to win the title.
Việt Nam’s cyclists also won one gold and one silver in the women’s cross-country for Đinh Thị Như Quỳnh and Cà Thị Thơm.
Cycling will be held in Hòa Bình Province with 12 events in road races from May 19-22 and mountain biking from May 14-17.
Vũm added: “My athletes will have a 10-day period to practice at the competition venue. It is enough for them to get familiar with weather and racing route.
“It will be useful for them when they compete in the SEA Games.”
First events of year
The Bình Dương Biwase Cup has 10 stages in total covering 1,101km. Cyclists will tour from Bình Dương Province to seven localities before returning to the host province.
Nine local clubs will pedal against three foreign crews from the Malaysian and Thai national teams and the Fisherman’s Friends club of Thailand.
Speaking at the press briefing, head of the organising committee Ngô Văn Lui said: “The Cup is the start event of the national cycling, promising a year of many activities.
“Despite complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to create an event for women cyclists and help national team members improve their technique and results ahead of the SEA Games.”
Meanwhile Ngô Quang Vinh, vice president of the Việt Nam Cycling and Motor Sports Federation, said as this it was the first event of the year for the professional athletes and considered a pre-SEA Games competition, riders would try hard to win titles.
The winner of the Biwase Cup will wear the yellow jersey and take VNĐ35 million (US$1,530). The best sprinter will pocket VNĐ25 million ($1,100) while the winning team will earn VNĐ30 million ($1,300).
Organisers will also deliver other prizes for Queen of Mountain, best young rider and Miss Biwase Cup.
On the men’s side, the 34th HCM City Television Cup will have 23 stages from the North to the South throughout many cities and provinces. The event race will start in Quảng Ninh Province on April 5 and end on April 30, Day of the Reunification, in HCM City.
Information of the tournament and prizes will be updated at a press conference in the next few weeks. — VNS