Tension builds in Cayman Classic

The third race in the Cayman Classic series, sponsored by Karim Awe of Cayman Insurance Centre, took place last week Sunday. There was another impressive turnout as cyclists lined up for a circuit race around Cost-U-Less.

cayman classic abbott

Steve Abbott celebrates his victory.
Photo: Eugene Bonthuys

The event was contested over 80 minutes of racing, with a whistle sounding at the end of that time to signal the final three laps of the race.

The event was very tactical and technical, with cyclists attacking constantly in the hope of claiming one of the three surprise sprint points during the race. These were announced by the blowing of a whistle as cyclists crossed the start/finish line.

From the very first sprint it became clear who would be the riders to watch, as Steve Abbott, Mitchell Smith and Michael Vernon ripped clear of the field to claim the first three places across the line.

It seemed set to be a tough battle in the women’s race as well, as Annelle Rabie took the first sprint, followed by Caroline Heal and Toni Pinkerton.

As with any circuit race, the event can easily become a nightmare to manage as cyclists are allowed to rejoin the bunch when they are lapped.

For those unfamiliar with the rules, this caused quite a bit of confusion, as riders who had been lapped but caught by the bunch could claim sprint points over riders who had not yet been lapped but were lagging behind the bunch.

Brian Chin Yee also launched a telling attack, hanging off the front of the bunch for a number of laps before getting caught up by the bunch on the next sprint lap.

The second sprint went to Smith, with Abbott claiming second and Michael Stomps claiming third.

The second sprint in the ladies race was a mirror image of the first, as Rabie was followed home by Heal and Pinkerton.

The third sprint point looked a bit different as Vernon took top spot, followed by Barry Jones and Smith. The ladies race also saw a bit of a shakeup as Pinkerton took it from Heal and Rabie.

The most important move of the day came when Abbott, Smith, Vernon and Jerome Ameline managed to jump clear of the peloton in order to set up what was to prove the race winning move. Abbott and Ameline had been in a similar situation the week before in the road race, with Ameline edging out Abbott on the line.

Abbott was not about to see a repeat of that result as he attacked his breakaway companions, holding them off for more than a lap to claim a glorious solo victory.

Behind him, Ameline and Smith had managed to distance Vernon and came to the line side by side. Smith’s track cycling skills played to his advantage as he lunged across the line to claim second, leaving Ameline to mop up the points for third.

In the women’s race Heal took line honours, followed by Pinkerton and Rabie.

In the Masters division it was all about Chris Sutton, as he claimed every sprint as well as first over the line. The rest of the points were shared between Max Obriest and John Broad.

‘My initial target was to claim the all important three points in the first to bring me joint on points overall with Jerome. After that I simply relaxed and enjoyed the racing,’ said an elated Abbott.

‘I am very pleased with my progress thus far, when you consider that it was only 12 months ago when I started riding again after an absence of 12 years.’

The results of the circuit race caused quite a couple of important moves in the overall series standings.

Abbott’s performance elevated him to first position in the standings, seven points clear of former leader Ameline. Smith rocketed from seventh to third in the standings, while Jones dropped from third to fourth.

In the ladies overall, Heal reclaimed the lead from Julie-Anne Pearson, with Pinkerton in third and Rabie in fourth.

In the Masters division, Sutton extended his lead even further, with Obriest and Bill Gerlack and Broad making up the rest of the leader board.