The victory of Chinaâs En Huang in the Tour of Vietnam at the end of December was a veritable exploit. First of all because the race was part of the UCI calendar for the first time (to celebrate the National Federationâs 20th anniversary), but above all because, until then, his compatriotsâ victories on the international scene were non-existent. Before Huang, impossible to find any trace of a Chinese victory in a UCI stage race outside China.
That is why the 18th December 2012 will go down in Asian cyclingâs record books. That was the date of the second stage of the ADC Tour of Vietnam, linking Rach Gia City's O Mon District to Can Tho City, which it was thought would go to one of the sprinters. However, the blistering heat coupled with humidity coming from the MÃ©kong river, the relentless attacks from the outset and the length of the course (one participant registered 213km on his bike computer) meant that things went in favour of a breakaway group. In the middle of the race, the 20 men in the lead already had 12 minutes on the rest of the field. The leader of the overall standings, Ki Ho Choi (Hong Kong) took charge of the pelotonâs desperate chase. In the final, two riders freed themselves from the breakaway: Vietnamâs Nguyen Hung and Chinaâs En Huang (Max Success Sports).
Hung was victorious with a demonstration of power that saw him cross the finish line two seconds ahead of his Chinese rival. âI am very glad to win this stage,â he declared. âIt proves that Vietnamese cyclists can win at an international event.â Hung, aged 25, was not merely one of the representatives of the eight national teams lined up against 13 foreign teams, but undisputedly one of his countryâs best cyclists, having won another UCI event, To Truong Son, in July. His victory was his countryâs first in the UCI Asia Tour.
Beaten in the sprint, Huang got his revenge by topping the overall standings. Also aged 25, he celebrated the best result of his career after 29th place in the Tour of China II in September.
In doing so, he enters the top 10 of the UCI Asia Tour individual rankings (10th, with 57 points). Russiaâs Alexander Serebryakov (213 points) remains in the lead in front of Ki Ho Choi (165 points), who moves from third to second thanks to his stage victory in Vietnam. The Czech Milan Kadlec completes the provisional podium with 162 points.
Hong Kong remains the best nation (261 points) in front of Malaysia (110 points) which climbs up the rankings thanks to Mohamed Harrif Sallehâs two stage victories in the ADC Tour of Vietnam.
Photo : Hung takes victory in front of HuangÂ in the 2nd stage of theÂ ADC Tour of Vietnam (credit: Mohd Mokhriz Aziz/Cycling Asia)