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Athletes to compete in first virtual reality cycling race

Update: April, 23/2020 - 08:09

Cyclists talk during their virtual cycling practise. Việt Nam's first virtual reality cycling race will be held on April 25-30. — Photo plo.vn

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam's first virtual reality cycling race will be held on April 25-30 to replace the annual HCM City Television (HTV) Cycling Cup which has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event will see nine participating teams compete through six stages which will have all kinds of terrain like the real race. The stages will last from 50-60km each.

Athletes will take their bikes equipped with electric rollers, screens and front-wheel lifters among items to connect together through Bluetooth to take part in the event.

All the participant's information will be registered on ZWIFT, an online cycling training programme that enables users to ride, train and compete in a virtual world.

“In the virtual race, athletes do not need to gather at one spot. They will race through the app ZWIFT at their bases and connect with the organisers through the internet,” said the head of the organising board Nguyễn Đình Khôi. “This will help limit the risk of spreading the coronavirus.”

The winner will take the yellow jersey and VNĐ10 million (US$424) in cash while the winning team will receive VNĐ15 million ($636).

Foreign athletes can participate in the race.

Khôi said live broadcasts will be produced for supporters and the last stage of the race will be set up the same as the stage from Bảo Lộc city of Lâm Đồng Province to HCM City, which is the last stage of the real HTV Cup.

Organisers will provide all devices for the cyclists while referees will be sent to teams’ locations to ensure the vent is fair.

“Online racing is very different from real racing. In reality, cyclists can stop pedalling for a little when they are tired or make use of wind during racing. It is impossible in the virtual race,” said HTV Cycling Tournament defending champion Lê Nguyệt Minh, adding that all tactics used in real races are also helpless

“Here, if you do not pedal, the bike in the app will stop moving. So athletes must work hard all the time. Cyclists who are good at time trial events will benefit more than those who are strong at sprinting like me,” said Minh of HCM City MM Mega Market.

According to coach Trần Văn Quýt of Domesco Đồng Tháp, a virtual race requires more energy than the real one as one-hour racing indoors is equal to two to three hours outdoor. It is because of the different environment, with airflow and humidity much lower, making cyclists lose more fluids and get tired quickly.

“The virtual stage looks real and we have to practice hard to complete the race,” said Trần Nguyễn Minh Trí of Domesco Đồng Tháp. “It will be a race tournament as we have to ride strongly all the time to get the best result.”

His teammate Phan Hoàng Thái shared that virtual racing confused him at first, but spending time on it together with help from ZWIFT experts had changed that.

“Like the real race, athletes must do their best to win. Chance here opens wide because it is the first time. Myself and the team are determined to take top positions,” he said. — VNS

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