BLOG: Velofit’s Darcie Richards retells the 2020 Biwase Cup
The Biwase Cup 28 February – 8 March is an annual international racing tour for Women held in Vietnam. The 2020 edition, in its tenth year, was increased to a total distance of 1035kms over ten stages.
The start list for 2020 included sixteen teams of five riders, featuring six Vietnamese teams and ten international teams. The route covers six mountain passes through the highlands in south Vietnam, long sprinters stages and a criterium in stunning Da Lat.
Velofit Australia, a Perth based National Road Series team travelled to Ho Chi Minh City to compete in its second Biwase Cup. Amongst the line-up were Lotto Soudal rider Nguyen Thi That and Ale Cipollini’s: Alé BTC Ljubljana. A mix of continental and European UCI level riders making the racing competitive, tactical and aggressive.
The field was reduced by travel restrictions in place on Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia and Korea due to the escalating COVID-19 threat in the region at the time. This was disappointing but did not impact the quality of racing, with a tough 10 stages of attacking, counter-attacking, breakaways and bunch finish making it a challenging but memorable tour.
Darcie Richards, 19yrs, a member of the Velofit Australia team who raced her first Asian tour.
Darcie reflected on the race and the big step she made taking on such a long and hard tour. With support from her team and Cycling Australia club coach Amanda O’Conner at X-Speed Cycle, Darcie finished in 5th place on Junior Rider Classification and 19th place overall, from 51 starters.
“The Biwase Cup in Vietnam was incredible. As a first-year U23, I found it crazy to find myself racing internationally at a huge 10-day stage race with over 1050km of riding. It was really well organized and supported by the event and the local towns we visited.”
“Riding in such a huge peloton with people around me speaking all different languages was something I had never experienced before.”
“Throughout the long stages, we rode through small villages and saw many of the local Vietnamese people. They would walk out from the dirt tracks and stop and stare as the peloton went past.
Then a couple of kilometres later we would be riding through large cities having hundreds of police escorting us holding the local traffic back at intersections. Motorbikes incessantly tooting their horns as the peloton went past was a huge cultural shock!”
“Throughout the tour my team and I worked hard on getting our GC rider into breaks, initiating breaks or attacks and working hard as a team to bring back a break. I learnt so much about working in a team and by the end of the tour I had a better understanding about what breakaways would have a better chance of staying away, improving my overall race knowledge and learning to read the races.”
“My highlight was finishing! I finished in 5th place on Junior Classification and 19th overall was a huge achievement for me.”
“It was a physical and emotional rollercoaster. 10 days of hard racing over 1035km brought so many emotions, sore legs, new life-long friends, so many new experiences, learning on and off the bike, a lot of laughter and memories. I don’t think I would have gotten through the experience if it wasn’t for my teammates and their encouragement on and off the bike along the way.
“The tour finished in Ho Chi Minh City on International Women’s Day on Sunday 8 March. Our team was welcomed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade representative in Ho Chi Minh City, Shaun Fitzgerald. The team finished 5th on Teams Classification.”