Tour de France winner looks forward to cycling in Vietnam

By Jon Aspin   May 7, 2019 | 10:44 pm PT
Tour de France winner looks forward to cycling in Vietnam
Cadel Evans after winning the 2011 Tour de France. Photo by Reuters/File
2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans has confirmed that he’ll ride the 2019 Coupe de Hue Gran Fondo on September 22.

"It's an absolute honor and privilege to be an invited guest rider for the 2019 Coupe de Hue," the Australian 2009 Road Cycling World Champion said in a statement shared with VnExpress International.

"I'm looking forward to joining my fellow cyclists and taking in the amazing Vietnamese countryside and culture while promoting it as an active destination to the rest of the world," Evans said.

In its second year after the first race took place in August 2018, the Coupe de Hue Gran Fondo, which begins and ends in the former imperial capital of Hue in central Vietnam, is the only cycling event in Vietnam to be recognized officially by the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale), the sport’s international governing body.

Currently part of their ‘Cycling for All’ calendar, race organizers are determined to get the event included in the UCI’s Gran Fondo World Series within the next two years.

This would see it listed among some of the most famous amateur one-day races in the world, many of which attract thousands of riders who are keen to qualify for the annual Gran Fondo World Championships held in Poland every year.

Participants at the 2018 Coupe de Hue Gran Fondo.

Participants at the 2018 Coupe de Hue Gran Fondo.

As a result, the 2019 Coupe de Hue race course has been improved to include just over 3,000 meters of climbing — last year there was none — on a 150km ‘out and back’ route that starts from outside Hue Citadel, and travels along part of the Perfume River, before following the National Highway 49 to the hill town of A Luoi.

"This year’s Gran Fondo will be a race from start to finish," said race director Richard Casswell. Last year, riders were effectively motor-paced until the last 20 kilometers, when they were "let off the leash" to compete.

"We have completely revised the route which now takes us up to A Luoi Town, and includes some serious climbs and quite technical sections," he told VnExpress International.

"We think these improvements can put the race on the international map and attract riders from all over the world to take on the challenge, and of course race with Cadel."

Map of the 2019 Coupe de Hue route.

Map of the 2019 Coupe de Hue route.

Richard and his team have also added two ‘King of the Mountain’ (KOM) challenges to the weekend’s calendar.

"The Bach Ma KOM Challenge is the jewel in our crown," he said.

"It is not currently permitted to ride bicycles up this mountain road, even by locals, but the Coupe de Hue has been granted exclusive permission to ride up there for this event. This will give riders an annual chance to ride this stunningly beautiful route, through the forest while ascending about 1,600 meters. It’s a serious climb and this year we will have some of the country’s best climbers joining in. We hope this will attract more local and international riders to take on the challenge."

The other KOM challenge is the Hai Van Pass 10km, essentially a sprint to the top of one of the country’s most famous landmarks. To keep families involved, a 10-kilometer Family Fondo cycle ride is also on the menu, as is a Teen Sprint event over the same distance.

Commenting on the changes in the course and racing format from last year, Casswell said it was a deliberate move to attract more serious cyclists from all over the region. Having a former Tour de France winner and world champion on board is also a part of that strategy.

"The opportunity to have Cadel on board arose and we just couldn’t turn it down," Casswell said.

"It is another first in Vietnam to have such a high-profile cyclist taking part, and is a great way to attract international attention. I think it proves that Vietnam is moving forward with taking its cycling seriously and showing it off as an active destination."

"Cadel is a superstar, and we hope it will reflect in the increased number of registered riders. We truly intend to make this ‘Hue’s Ironman.’"

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