Competitive cycling in Myanmar took a step forward last weekend when the third leg of the inaugural Cycle and Make a Difference Charity Series hosted the country’s first-ever nighttime mountain bike race.
Held on March 27 – as part of a three-day cycling competition that also included a road race on March 28 and a cross-country mountain bike event on the final day – the event was described as a “milestone for the local cycling scene” by Khin Maung Win. owner of Myan Shwe Pyi Tractors, the series sponsor.
“I think the cyclists found it rewarding. Riders came from all over Myanmar to compete. It was quite amazing to see them all here,” he added.
The winner of each event is given a K1 million certificate to donate to a charitable organisation that works in a community in the vicinity of the race course.
The night race, which started at 7pm at the Nature’s Life Sporting Ground near the base of Yankin Hill, consisted of 10 laps of a fast 5-kilometre (3-mile) course, contested by relay teams made up of three to five riders each. The rules stipulated that no rider could do more than two consecutive laps before handing off to a teammate. Fourteen teams participated.
The winning team of Sai Aung Hlaing Sae, Aung Naing Tun and Sunny Aye, representing the Mandalay Free Riders cycling club, finished in front of a screaming crowd with a time of 2h 4m 47s, just 18 seconds ahead of a three-man team from Nay Pyi Taw.
The 50km road race on March 28 started with a quick cruise around Mandalay Palace before diverting northward onto a tough circuit that included three leg-curdling ascents of Mandalay Hill. The tattered field of 45 riders then faced a long, flat stretch to the finish line in an industrial zone southeast of the city.
The race was won by 37-year-old Min Min Han from Mandalay in time of 1h 24m 5s, with Chit Ko Ko, 21, trailing in second place by 11
Min Min Han – who also managed third place in the over-26 age group in the cross-country mountain bike race on March 29, despite having to dismount to squeeze past a truck that briefly blocked the course – was modest about his accomplishments.
“It was a good weekend for me,” he said.
The cross-country mountain bike race – five laps of the same 5km circuit used for the night relay – was taken out by Zaw Win Ko with a time of 59m 10s. He bested his nearest competitor, Sai Aung Hlaing Sae, by 8 seconds. More than 50 cyclists participated in the race.
The women’s road and cross-country races were both won handily by 21-year-old Tin Win Kyi, a triathlete currently residing at the Youth Training Centre in Nay Pyi Taw.
“The mountain bike course was okay. It wasn’t too tough for me,” she said, “but the end of the road course had too much traffic. I had to ride carefully.”
June’s Singapore SEA Games have come too early for the youngster who has only recently joined the sporting academy, but on the basis of this performance she will be one to watch for the future when the 2017 Games roll around.
The series consists events held every two months in different locations around Myanmar. The first event took place in Yangon last November and the second in Nay Pyi Taw in January. The fourth round is tentatively scheduled to be held in Taunggyi, Shan State, in late May or early June.
Jeff Parry, an Australian cycling guru who lives in Yangon and who participated in the night relay and cross-country races, described the weekend as a “very well-organised carnival of cycling”.
“The mountain bike course was a nice, well-chosen track with a bit of everything,” he said. “I’m already looking forward to the next event in Taunggyi.”
Source: Myanmar Times