The second race in the Cayman Classic series, sponsored by Karim Awe of Cayman Insurance Centre, took place on Sunday.
The turnout for the event, a 45 mile road race, matched that of the first race in the series, seeming to indicate that cycling has regained much of its former lustre after a number of years in the wilderness.
The event saw cyclists tackle a route that took them from Grand Harbour out to East End and back along Frank Sound Road. Along the way there would be three sprint primes, with points awarded for the first three male, female and veteran cyclists across the line. However, the biggest points would be up for grabs on the finish line.
The group set out at a somewhat leisurely pace, as the first part of the race up to Bodden Town was run as a neutral zone. However, as soon as the siren was sounded to indicate the official start of the race, series leader Barry Jones was off.
He was closely marked by defending champion Gary Clarke, who was onto Jones’ wheel immediately. The peloton soon brought Jones back into the fold, before he attacked once more and was allowed a bit of leeway.
However, the bunch kept a close eye on the gap, never allowing Jones to grow his advantage substantially. The race really heated up as the peloton approached the first sprint prime of the day, with Steve Evans launching an attack that ripped the bunch to shreds.
However, try as he might, Evans could not stay clear of the bunch, who swept him up in time to claim the sprint points. Steve Abbott claimed three points for crossing the line first, followed by Clarke on two points and Jerome Ameline on one.
The pace remained high as the bunch swept towards the second prime at the top of the rise just past Morrits.
Some hard early pace making on the lower slopes stretched the bunch, shelling out a couple of the less powerful cyclists before the slopes really started to bite. At the front of the field the sprint was on for the top, with Connor O’Leary taking maximum points, followed by Mitchell Smith and Abbott.
As the leaders went through the sprint point, Smith and O’Leary sat up, while Jones, Abbott and Jasper Mikkelsen pressed home their advantage over the shattered peloton.
As the bunch regrouped behind, the three leaders worked together to build on their lead. Alert to the danger the three riders in front posed, the bunch seemed intent on dragging them back, but apparently Jerome Ameline did not trust in the ability or willingness of the bunch to close the gap as he launched a solo attempt to bridge to the leaders. Ameline soon joined the leaders, who grew to a group of four before Jones slipped off the pace, leaving Abbott, Ameline and Mikkelsen out front followed by a determined bunch.
The three leaders swept through the third and final sprint of the day, with Mikkelsen taking three points, Ameline claiming two and Abbott mopping up.
With three of the strongest motors in the Cayman peloton out in front it seemed certain that this would indeed be the race winning move, with the peloton soon resigning itself to fighting it out for fourth place on the line.
As the finish line approached, Abbott and Ameline out-kicked Mikkelsen, with Ameline claiming a photo finish win over Abbott.
This was Ameline’s first ever road race win in the Cayman Classic series, even though he has claimed many time trial wins in the past.
‘I was planning an attack just after the climb, as everybody always sits up there,’ said Ameline after the race.
‘However, when I got to the front, I saw that someone had already attacked, so I jumped across to them.’
The win was very important for Ameline, as it also gave him the series lead.
In the ladies race, it was a closely contested battle between Caroline Heal, Julie-Anne Pearson and Justine Plenkiewicz. The three shared the points through most of the sprint points and battled it out all the way to the finish line.
At the first sprint, Heal took maximum points, followed by Pearson and Celine Macken. The second sprint saw the same to at the top, with Justine Plenkiewicz taking up third. At the third sprint it was Pearson who crossed the line in first, followed by Heal and Plenkiewicz.
At the finish line, Pearson bested Heal for the win, with Plenkiewicz coming in third.
The masters division saw Chris Sutton show that he was truly over his run of bad luck as he claimed an emphatic victory. Max Obriest claimed the runner up spot, with Larry Walters taking third.
The race certainly shook up the overall standings, with Ameline on 22 points claiming the series lead from Jones. Abbott is only three points behind on 19, with Jones clinging onto third with 10 points.
In the ladies division, Pearson holds a narrow one point lead over Heal, with Toni Pinkerton in third.
Among the masters, Sutton holds a four point lead over Obriest, with Gerlack well back in third.
The third race in the series will take the form of a circuit race around Cost-U-Less in Governor’s Square.
The racing is set to be fast and furious as the bunch tears around a circuit that will take them from Cost-U-Less left down the bypass, then left down West Bay Road, and left again at Governor’s Square. There will be three intermediate sprints during the race, which will be contested at random intervals.
The sprints will be announced by the ringing of a bell as the cyclists pass through the start-finish line, with points being awarded to the first three cyclists to cross the line the next time the group comes around.
Some cyclists may try solo breakaways in order to outfox the bunch, while the strong sprinters will try to keep things together for a brutally fast final sprint. However, with a tough corner to negotiate shortly before the finish line, it is likely that the first cyclist into the final corner will be the first to cross the line.
The event is set to start at 8:00 am.
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