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Meet Nguyen Thi That, Vietnam's First Cyclist to Ride for a Professional European Team

A female cyclist from An Giang Province recently became the Vietnamese rider to compete for a European cycling team.

Born in An Giang in the Mekong Delta, 25-year-old Nguyen Thi That was recently hired by Belgium-based professional cycling team Lotto–Soudal Ladies to compete in 2019. The team was established in 2006 and participates in races like the UCI (International Cycling Union) Women’s Road World Cup.

That is one of the most promising stars in Vietnam’s cycling scene in recent years. Back in February, she arrived first at the 2018 Asian Track Cycling Championship in Myanmar, clinching the first-ever gold medal by a Vietnamese female cyclist in an Asian race.

Earlier this year, Nguyen Thi That was in Switzerland to train for ASIAD 2018, which occurred in Indonesia in August. While there, That took part in the 2018 Dwars door de Westhoek on June 3 and won first place. The triumph in Europe propelled her to the 34th spot in the union’s ranking, reportedly the best world position ever attained by an Asian cyclist.

Her amazing performance didn’t go unnoticed by Lotto-Soudal, which offered That a position on their team. The timing wasn’t right, however, as she had to focus on riding for Vietnam for ASIAD.

“At that time, I told the Belgian scouts to wait until the Asiad is over to get my final answer, thinking that I might be wasting a rare opportunity in my life,” she told Tuoi Tre. “But after the Asiad, they did contact me again, and I had no reason to procrastinate anymore.”

That didn’t perform well in her events in the Pan-Asian sport tournament, but that didn’t faze Lotto-Soudal, which offered her a monthly salary of 2,500 euros (US$2,850) and more performance-dependent bonuses. She will also be allowed to return home to cycle for Vietnam in other major races.

At the moment, the 25-year-old is nurturing a dream of getting spot for the upcoming Tokyo Summer Olympics in 2020.

[Photo via Viet Bao]

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