Vietnam surprised other nations at the Sea Games by capturing gold and silver medals in the road race ahead of hot favourites Malaysia and Indonesia. Minh Thuy Bui and Nguyen Hung Mai took the top two places while Zamri Salleh, in third, looked devastated after winning the bronze for favorite nation Malaysia.
Many Asian coaches expected a final bunch sprint, but it became impossible to control a bunch that was reduced to just 25 of the original starters, so the winning breakaway took off after five kilometers with one rider from each of the six participating nations. Riders from Laos and Singapore proved unable to follow; but the remaining four break members were joined at the half way point by three additional riders.
The break then totalled seven riders with Kaswanto (Indonesia), Salleh and Ali Fallanie (Malaysia), Jeebthaworn Natthapon and Boon Thurakit (Thailand), Minh Thuy Bui and Nguyen Hung Mai (Vietnam).
After cruising at 40km/h, the attacks towards the end favoured the Vietnamese. With five kilometres to go, Bui went clear and Mai controlled Salleh Fallanie before taking the sprint for second place.
"I'm very happy but the win is for the whole team," said a jubilant Bui after his win.
"This fantastic result came from team work and the combination of our attacks," said runner-up Mai.
Indonesia's Tonton Susanto was forced to pull out due to a mechanical incident only one hour after the start.
Thailand's French coach Sébastien Duclos has enjoyed watching his young riders improve and commented on how the race. "In contrast to Vietnam, Malaysia had no team spirit and wouldn't sacrifice one rider for the other." Malaysia, the South East Asian nation with the most current resources for financially supporting its cyclists, had to settle for bronze.
The Malaysian team experienced some controversy leading up to the race as Loh Sea Keong was sidelined on Saturday and replaced by Razif Salleh even though Sea Keong was already in Vientiane. "I don't know why, and this is a management decision," said Fallanie who ended up fourth. "With Sea Keong, Malaysia would have had the best team. He's one of our best domestic riders. I don't know why he didn't race."
Coach Jamaluddin Omar refused to give an explanation for his decision. "I changed at the last minute, but I cannot talk about that. I can only tell our chef-de-mission why I didn't take Sea Keong."
Vietnam's success came after some excellent coaching this season. Nine months ago, Kyrgyzstan's Nikolai Kurkov was appointed as a national coach after a 10-year tenure in Egypt. "The level of Vietnamese riders has increased a lot since I got there," said Coach Kurkov. "We've organized an altitude training camp at 1,500 meters in Dallat City for 23 days, and we came here in Laos one week before the race. Before I came, the riders didn't believe they could be so competitive at the international Asian level. Now they know they can do it."
Looking ahead, the newly crowned South East Asian champion Bui said, "My next goal is to win the Asian championship."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Minh Thuy Bui (Vietnam)||4:01:43|
|2||Nguyen Hung Mai (Vietnam)||0:01:13|
|3||Saleh Mohd Zamri (Malaysia)|
|4||Fallanie Ahmad (Malaysia)||0:01:32|
|5||J. Natthapon (Thailand)||0:01:41|
|6||Hashim Junaidi (Singapore)||0:07:18|
|7||Nguyen Van Tai (Vietnam)|
|8||H. Ryan Ariehaan(Indonesia)|
|9||S. Phuchong (Thailand)||0:07:19|
|11||B. Thurakit (Thailand)||0:07:20|
|12||Mahawong Prajak (Thailand)||0:09:26|
|13||Mohd Razif Salleh (Malaysia)||0:10:15|
|14||Low Ji Wen (Singapore)|
|15||Lieo Bouakeo (Laos)||0:10:30|
|16||Anuar Manan (Malaysia)||0:15:09|
|17||Daniel Loy (Singapore)||0:15:10|
|18||Ariya Poonsavath (Laos)||0:15:16|
|20||Le Van Duan (Vietnam)||0:15:17|
|22||Calvin Sim (Singapore)||0:15:18|
|DNF||Tonton Susanto (Indonesia)|
|DNF||Jesus Da Costa (TimorLeste)|
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