We need government support or Hong Kong can kiss goodbye to its road races, says cycling chief

The Hong Kong Cycling Association is running out of time to stage its road race championships with its future in the hands of villagers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 April, 2018, 6:29pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 April, 2018, 10:55pm

The Hong Kong Cycling Association could be forced to cancel this year’s national road race championships on Bride Pool Road in Tai Po if the government doesn’t set proper guidelines and policy support towards staging road races.

With only two months to go before the national road race championships, the association still needs the green light from the villagers, who live along the route, to close the road for the annual competition. The national road race championships are set for June 23 (time trial) and June 24 (road race).

“The government has to do something to improve the situation or we will run into difficulties in staging the race,” said association chairman Leung Hung-tak. “If there is a policy for running sport events in Hong Kong, it will definitely make things easier.”

It is believed the local villagers in Wu Kau Tang along the route are reluctant to close the road for the race, thereby preventing the cycling association from submitting the route plan to the Transport Department and the police for approval.

“We have been doing this on our own for many years and despite encountering many problems, the villagers would agree after discussion. We know it will cause them a lot of inconvenience. But this time they have not been as cooperative as in previous years,” Leung said.

“If there was a policy from the government stating they have to allow us to use this route for a certain number of times a year, it would definitely help. In fact, I don’t think we are asking for too much, considering the massive contribution made by our top road racers.

“Many of our cyclists enjoy racing on the roads and if we want them to continue to do well on the international stage, the government has to support us.”

Retired cyclist Wong Kam-po is a shining example of how Hong Kong’s country roads helped him win a record three Asian Games road race gold medals [1998, 2006 and 2010] and one bronze [2002], while Leung Chun-wing also won bronze at the last Asian Games in Incheon. Wong also represented Hong Kong at five Olympic Games, four times in the road race.

“We can only stage a limited number of road races a year as we need to negotiate with individual parties. We hope the government can step in and help us ,” said Leung.

Another part of the national championships (road race event) will take place along the highway in Tin Shui Wai, an ideal route as the traffic is generally lighter. But local authorities only allow for three events to be held there a year, sharing with other sports such as running and triathlon.

If they cannot get the approval for June’s time trial, Leung said they would be left with no choice but cancelling it or moving the event to the unfavourable Po Kong Village Road Park circuit in Diamond Hill.

“The circuit allows only one kilometre a lap and many riders do not like such a short distance and racing in a confined area inside a park is also dangerous,” said the chief, who was also the Hong Kong road race team captain during his competition days in the 1980s.