Local Team to Host Cycling Criterium in Vientiane

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Top Cycle Team to Host Cycling Criterium in Vientiane

Laos has never really seen cycling as a competitive sport, but that may soon change. A group of passionate cyclists is organizing the first cycling competition in the country. They hope this event will inspire both locals and international residents to cycle more, not just for personal health but also to reduce smog.

The Top Cycle Team (TCT) is set to host an open criterium at That Luang Lake in Vientiane Capital on 20 January. With a focus on promoting cycling as both a competitive sport and a sustainable mode of transportation, the group aims to encourage international-level participation and elevate the profile of cycling in the country.

Although saving the environment may not be their primary objective, Vilaphone Phouthavongsay, a Top Cycle Team member, is aware of the benefits of cycling to reduce the effects of climate change and the release of vehicle pollutants into the air.

Nevertheless, concerns still linger as the majority of residents in Laos prefer to commute with motorized vehicles, hindering the full facilitation of bicycles on city roads.

Vilaphone also noted that cycling is notably less popular compared to other sports such as football, badminton, and sepaktakraw in the country. Emphasizing the significance of this event, the cyclist hopes to see more people riding bicycles in Laos in the future and establish a lasting cycling culture.

Due to the poor conditions of the roads in Vientiane, for a lengthy race, Vilaphone highlighted the best suitability of That Luang Lake. Situated in the heart of Vientiane Capital near the ITECC mall, it boasts an expansive area of 365 hectares and is an ideal alternative venue for the race.

“It wouldn’t mean much if we only get to practice without getting to be on official stages to show our talents to the world,” Vilaphone said.

The race categories include Men Master (men aged 40 and above), Men Open (men within the age range of 19-39), Young Rider (men under 18), and Women of all ages. The Men Open category will cover a total distance of 35 kilometers, circling the field seven times, while the other categories will cycle a total of 25 kilometers with five laps.

The event has garnered about 80 participants so far, with a target of 120. The registration deadline has been extended to 18 January from originally 10 January to draw more participants. The team also encourages people with disabilities to join, fostering inclusivity and fun.

“We don’t have a separate category for people with disabilities because we want everyone to feel equal and inclusive,” explained Vilaphone, who, as a person with disabilities himself, emphasized the importance of ensuring that everyone feels included.

“If this event proves successful, we will certainly organize similar competitions more frequently—ideally on a monthly basis,” Vilaphone said, expressing optimism about the potential for the event’s success.