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Champion cyclist wants to live In Vietnam
Sunday,  Jun 14, 2020,18:30 (GMT+7)

Champion cyclist wants to live In Vietnam

Last Sunday, Javier Sarda Perez, a 32-year-old cyclist from Spain, won both the overall yellow jersey for the best rider and the overall red jersey for the king of mountains of the HCMC Television Cycling Cup 2020, one of the most prestigious cycling tournaments here in the country. “Vietnam is my second homeland,” said the Spanish cyclist during an interview with the local media. “I want to continue playing as a professional for a few more years before retirement. Afterward, I may remain in Vietnam.”

In fact, Perez is not a new name in the HCMC Television Cycling Cup. Last year, he attended the competition and won the overall yellow jersey. However, this year’s victory might be even sweeter for Perez after he had come under the spotlight of not only the Vietnamese media but also the press back in his home country.

In an interview with Tuoi Tre newspaper following his final win, Perez said he had been interviewed by many big news outlets in Spain such as Marca, AS and El Mundo, as well as Antena 3 television channel.

“This is the first time in my career I’m able to attract the coverage of the Spanish media,” said Perez. “It is because in my country, almost all sporting events are canceled because of Covid-19.”

The local press reported that although the HCMC Television Cycling Cup is not organized by the world-renowned UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale), it is now one of the first cycling tournaments to be organized following the outbreak of the coronavirus. It has therefore captured the attention of the international cycling circle.

Asked by Tuoi Tre about what he had told the Spanish press, Perez answered he told his compatriot reporters about what happened in Vietnam and his life in the country.

“I told them that Vietnam has done superbly to fight Covid-19 so that the cycling competition could take place,” said Perez. “Spectators flocked to the street to support us riders. The Spanish interviewers were surprised at the effectiveness of Vietnam’s fight against the pandemic because they knew Vietnam shares a common long border with China [where the virus was first found].”

Perez said he was in HCMC in February and soon traveled with his teammates in the HCMC Team to Dalat in Lam Dong Province to practice cycling. They were then preparing for the cup scheduled for April. However, the spread of Covid-19 forced the organizers to postpone the tournament until mid-May.

Talking to the Spanish media, Perez said his drilling was not seriously affected even during the social distancing period in Vietnam.

The cycling competition, lasting from May 19 to June 7, attracted 12 teams with 84 cyclists. Among them were two foreign riders and Perez was one of the two.

About his performances during the competition, Perez said he was very happy and the victory was a joint effort of all his teammates.

“There were many unexpected events during the course of the tournament,” said Perez. “But we knew when to launch an attack, and I won the yellow jersey right on my 32nd birthday after the two most challenging legs of the competition. We had to climb two passes successively.”

Perez told reporters that during the competition time, cyclists did not have to observe any special rule, “But when not in competition, we had to wear face masks,” he said. “That was compulsory. The organizers always reminded us of taking great care of our health and complying with measures to fight Covid-19. We live and practice cycling abiding by these rules to protect our own health.”

Asked what he would do after his win, Perez said he was worried about his loved ones back in Spain. “I talk to them every day,” he said. “For the immediate future, I can’t return to Spain because there is no connecting flight. I will remain here to practice and compete. I may come back to Spain at Christmas.”

Perez told Tuoi Tre that he would soon auction his yellow and red jerseys to raise funds for charity. The auction is scheduled for June 17 in Hanoi.

Speaking of his future plans following his victory, Perez said he wants to compete as a professional cyclist for a few more years. “Later, I will remain in Vietnam,” he said. “I’ve had some intentions for my life. But that is in the future. Now, I’m still crazy with cycling.”

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