The fourth stage of the 2014 Smart Cambodia MTB Series on Sunday will see the Kingdom’s best mountain bikers tackle the rocky gradients of Phnom Baset as tensions shift up a gear in the penultimate round.
The steep hill, located around 25 kilometres northwest of Phnom Penh as the crow flies, is a favourite among adrenaline seekers on two wheels.
“Phnom Baset is the most technical track of the whole series,” race organiser Pierre Yves Catry told the Post.
“It is ideal for training before any big race and it can be ridden in any weather condition as it never gets muddy. A great track for riders with good skills.”
Catry revealed that a new 3.5km elite course has been marked out for the weekend, with updates also made to the routes for novice and women’s races.
27-year-old Khmer Cyling Team rider Hong Chanmakara and Flying Bikes’ Nhonh Lenh, 22, are the current co-leaders of the A1 Elite class on 62 points.
While neither cyclist have won a race this year, their consistency have seen them stay ahead of the pack, with winner of the first two stages, 18-year-old EYC rider Yoeun Phyuth, failing to complete the most recent round in Kampong Speu.
That race was won by Simon Gadient of Switzerland, who is third on 56 points coming into Sunday’s start. Catry is fourth on 54 points and Phyuth is fifth on 50 from his two finishes.
The A2 Experts class is headed by female biking sensation Heng Sivlang of Flying Bikes. The 31-year-old mother of four will look to make it three straight victories this weekend and stay ahead of team-mate Srey Ya and third-placed Nick Simpson.
In the B1 Intermediate class, Flying Bikes’ Sang Seyha, 19, is also chasing a hat-trick of race wins. He holds a 10-point cushion over Yura Kim of Elevate Cycling Team at the top of the standings, with Mekong Cycling Team’s Pot Sareth a further four points back in third.
Sareth’s stablemate Le Chanthorn, meanwhile, has yet to put a foot wrong in the B2 Intermediate class for over-30 riders and will break the triple-digit points mark if he can triumph for the fourth time in a row on Sunday.
With 75 points, Chanthorn is 15 clear of second placed Kim Sambath from Siem Reap with Antonio Maling of MDK Adventures third on 58.
Eam Vatim tops the C1 Novice (14-18 years old) division by five points, Sin Davorn carries a four-point advantage in the C2 Novice (19-35) section and Campinoy’s Melvin Baroga is seven points better than the rest in the C3 Novice (36 and over).
Heng Sivlang’s sister Sivgech is another pedalist pursuing perfection after winning the first three races of the Women’s event. The Flying Bikes rider leads her team-mate Pen Sokly by nine points and her 15-year-old niece Vong Soukheng by 19.
Suy Seng Heng, 13, of Flying Bikes is 16 points in front of his nearest rival and team-mate Ear Chun Leng in the Kid’s class.
Track inspection and rider briefing will be held from 7:30am on Sunday with races to flag off from 8am. Lunch and a prize giving ceremony is slated for 1pm.
The A1 class race will be feature five laps of the 3.5km course, A2 riders will do four laps, B1, B2, C1 and C2 entrants will do three laps and C3 and women’s class two laps.
The final round of this year’s five-race series will be held at Kirirom National Park on December 14.