Circuit racing is always an advantage for the cyclists with good sprints. With breakaway specialist Le Nguyet Minh and two crew members, Vinama and New Group, HCMC dominated the round of 42 km in the northern highlands’ Lang Son Province.
Dong Thap also has two breakway specialists Nguyen Tan Hoai and Tran Tuan Kiet, but their squad power proved no match for HCMC.
Coach Do Thanh Dat of HCMC had the second team, New Group, start the race. About 500 meters away from the finish line, the second team made way for the first team, Vinama, to breakaway. Their opponents couldn’t repond in time, allowing HCMC cyclists to reach the finish line first.
Perez crossed the finish line first, followed by Minh. The third and fourth place were also taken by HCMC riders Nguyen Duong Ho Vu and Nguyen Truong Tai.
“I was a bit surprised with this victory, because my breakaway is not as strong as the opponents. But thanks to my teammates who put me in a comfortable position, I won. From the bottom of my heart, I’m really grateful,” Perez said.
Perez had won the tournament’s Yellow Jersey in 2019 and 2020.
After three stages, Minh has held on to the Yellow and Blue jerseys. Rider Thai Ngoc Hai from Vinh Long team holds the White Jersey, which is given to the best young racer.
The fourth stage of the race, running 145 kilometers from Lang Son to Hanoi, will be held Friday.
The Vietnam National Men’s Multi-day Bicycle Stage Race, also known as the HTV Cup, has a total prize money of nearly VND2 billion ($86,860) this year, the highest in history of the tournament. There are 15 domestic teams participating and competing on a total distance of 2,450 km through 22 stages. The race started from Cao Bang in the northern highlands on April 6 and will finish at the Independence Palace in HCMC on April 30, the National Reunification Day.
While the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that the organizers could not invite foreign teams, the tournament still has two veteran foreign riders in Vietnam – Perez (HCMC) and Frenchman Loic Descriac (Dong Nai).