The AsiaTour expands its reach again this season as, for the first time in history next week, a UCI-sanctioned professional road cycling race takes place in Vietnam. From 17-22 December, 21 teams will race 794 kilometres in and around the nation’s largest urban population of Ho Chi Minh City.
TOUR OF VIETNAM BACKGROUNDER
In September this year, the Vietnamese Cycling Federation celebrated its 20th year of operations. This inaugural Tour of Vietnam will not only provide an up-to-date benchmark on the success of the UCI’s globalisation vision and development program, it will also be the first time Vietnamese road cyclists can benchmark themselves en masse against some of their strongest peers in Asia. With the exception of the Asian Games, no other platform exists for such an opportunity.
A healthy cycling culture was evident during a recent trip to Hanoi. Whilst bikes could not be seen in numbers equal to the ubiquitous scooters during the day, it was a different story in the early morning with thousands of people – some on carbon road bikes, others on heavy single-speed steel utility bikes – enjoying a spin around the inner-city West Lake. Incidentally, for anyone wondering what it’s like to ride a road bike in Vietnam, I thoroughly recommend starting with this great article at CyclingTips.
The forecast for Ho Chi Minh City is for warm, sultry and sunny days, with temperatures ranging from 24-34°C and around 90% humidity. Temperatures should remain broadly consistent across the low-lying provinces of the Mekong Delta.
Page four of the 2012 ADC Tour of Vietnam race regulations – specifically Article 10: ‘Mountains/Climbers’ Classification’ – speaks volumes: “There is not any mountain pass in the ADC Tour of Vietnam 2012.” So, with no KOM classification, and nary a climb in sight, it will instead be the average stage distance (158.8km, not including the 50km criterium on the final day which is separate from the race and does not count towards the general classification) and humidity (see above) that will in large part determine the attrition rate.
Teams must have a minimum of four, and maximum of six, riders and four officials. Eight of the 21 teams are local, with the ADC-THVL team reportedly bringing in two French riders; Loic Desriac (formerly a stagiaire with ProTeam AG2R, and currently riding for Roubaix Lille Metropole) and younger brother Gael. Racing alongside the Desriac duo will be Vietnamese national road cycling champion Bui Minh Thuy. Amongst the foreign teams lining up in Ho Chi Minh City is the Hong Kong National team, which has won the last two AsiaTour stage races, courtesy of U23 National Champ Choi Ki Ho.
Three jerseys will be awarded at the conclusion of each stage:
Leader of General Classification – Yellow
Leader of Points Classification – Green
Leader of Best Young Rider Individual Classification – White
A pool of VN440,800,000 (USD21,000) is earmarked for distribution to place-getters in intermediate sprints and also for winners of stages and classifications. Here’s a summary of the major beneficiaries*:
Overall winner (individual) = USD2,400
Overall team = USD480
Overall Points = USD960
Stage winner = USD770
Best Young Rider (overall individual) = USD480
*as at today’s exchange rates
The official Tour of Vietnam website looks promising, but it still lists stage summaries which contradict the race regulations Cycling iQ has received. However, there is also an official ADC Tour of Vietnam Facebook whose content is more accessible for english-speaking fans. Cycling Asia’s Mike Mokhriz (also the UCI AsiaTour official photographer) is onsite taking pictures, and Cycling iQ will try to fill in the rest of the gaps, including stage results on Twitter.
Additionally, I’d like to make a special mention of the blogs of Jordan Mathes and James Stout; both are riding for the Traveller USA team and have already posted some amusing pre-race content. I’d especially like to thank Jordan for contacting Cycling iQ through the blog to let us know he would be racing.
STAGES AND PROFILES
Stage 1 | Ho Chi Minh City – My Tho – Vinh Long – Can Tho City, 160km
Monday, 17 December 2012 (starts 10:00 local time)
Stage 2 | Can Tho – Soc Trang – Can Tho, 124km
Tuesday, 18 December 2012 (starts 10:00 local time)
Stage 3 | Long Xuyen – Chau Doc – Long Xuyen – Can Tho, 180km
Wednesday, 19 December 2012 (starts 10:00 local time)
Stage 4 | Can Tho – Kien Giang – Can Tho, 180km
Thursday, 20 December 2012 (starts 10:00 local time)
Stage 5 | Can Tho – Cao Lanh – Ho Chi Minh City, 150km
Friday, 21 December 2012 (starts 10:00 local time)
Criterium | Ho Chi Minh City, 50km
Saturday, 22 December 2012 (starts 09:00 local time)
NO MAP PROVIDED