A fter an unexplained delay of two weeks, Cambodia's first
ever cyclo races in living memory got off to a rousing start in the capital with
thousands of eager fans cheering on sixty two-man teams of cyclists who raced
feverishly in the hopes of obtaining a coveted gold trophy and a hefty cash
Sam Morn, along with his partner Ry Long, were the lucky and
surprisingly not so exhausted winners of the "Four Hour
"I'm very happy with the victory," said Long on his way to
the winner's circle.
"I feel as I always do," added Long, "Because I'm
already used to pushing heavy loads on my cyclo everyday. I didn't need to spend
extra energy when it was so empty. I only went faster."
celebrated their victory with a bottle of Tiger Beer.
gratefully accepted a gold cup and one million riels ($400) in cash from First
Premier Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who also awarded the victors with an extra
200,000 riels from his own pocket.
The race was organized by the Ministry
of Tourism, with sponsorship provided by the French oil company Total and
Coca-Cola of the U.S.
The four-hour cyclo extravaganza was the first of
its kind in Cambodia in 30 years.
Enthusiastic race watchers flanked
Preah Sothearos Blvd. to watch the race. Some residents along the course,
sensing the heat that the riders might be suffering from, took to spraying
riders with water as they raced by.
Race entrants pedalled feverishly for
a total of 80 kilometers, starting at 11 am and ending at 3 PM.
Long left school four years ago to become a cyclo-driver as his family needed
His partner, Sam Morn is a demobilized soldier.
Both champions said
their daily maximum income was about 10,000 riels ($4).
They said they
would use the money to buy new cyclos and send the rest to their parents in the
Mom Heap and Yoeun Yong came in second and picked up 800,000
riels for their efforts.
Kong Sambo and Ky Chantha emerged third and
received 500,000 riels.
All in all, the cyclo races were well received by
both participants and observers. Plans are in the works for a second
"Cyclopousse" next year.