The longest and toughest event of the Cayman Classic series, a 65 mile road race, took place on Sunday. This was the fourth event in the series, sponsored by Karim Awe of Cayman Insurance Centre.
With only a 10 mile time trial remaining, the road race was a vital opportunity for those with their eyes on the overall title to score some much needed points.
In the men’s division, Steve Abbott held a seven point lead over second placed Jerome Ameline going into the race, with Mitchell Smith another eight points back in third.
In the ladies division, Caroline Heal held a comfortable 15 point lead over Julie-Anne Pearson with Toni Pinkerton another six points back in third.
The more than 50 participants started from Grand Harbour, with cyclists observing a neutral zone all the way out to East End. However, the entente in the peloton was shattered the moment the neutral zone ended as the pace was ratcheted up and attack after attack went off the front.
However, with perennial break away artist Jasper Mikkelsen not competing, it was always going to be tough for a break to get away.
The leaders in the points competitions marked one another very closely, which also meant that any move containing Abbott would soon be joined by Ameline and the other way around. This also neutralised a number of moves. In general the bunch held together, although two of the top competitors in the ladies division, Caroline Heal and Annelle Rabie, found themselves shelled out the back of the bunch and out of points contention on the day.
With no bonus sprint points on offer, the race held together until quite close to the finish line, where Michael Stomps launched a powerful attack. He was followed by Steve Evans and with the top contenders more focussed on each other than on the break the two managed to get clear of the peloton.
Stomps charged over the line to take his first win of the season, with Evans a couple of seconds behind to claim second place. The top contenders charged for the line together, with Smith beating out Abbott for the valuable five points for third place.
In the ladies race, Anne Linstad was the surprise winner, with Pinkerton outsprinting Celine Macken for second place on the line.
In the Masters division, it was more of the same as Chris Sutton dominated once again, leading Bill Gerlack and Max Obreist.
With neither Abbott nor Ameline claiming any points, the gap at the top of the standings remained at seven points. Smith’s third place in the race moved him up to within three points of Ameline in second.
In the ladies division the race results caused a minor shakeup in the overall standings, as Pinkerton’s seven points for second place elevated her to second overall, one point ahead of Pearson.
The deciding race of the series will take place on Sunday 31 May, with cyclists taking on a 10 mile time trial course along South Sound. The race is set to start at 7:00 am, with registration between 6:15 and 6:45. Cyclists will set off at one minute intervals, with the contenders for overall glory set to take off last. The route will take them from Paradise Bar and Grill down to the roundabout at Grand Harbour and back up to the finish line at Paradise.
With ten points on the line for a win and points all the way down to one point for tenth, every second will count as cyclists battle it out for series glory.
If Ameline wins the time trial, Abbott will need to finish in seventh or better to claim the series title. No other cyclist is within striking distance of the series win.
In the ladies division, Heal has the competition won, all the other competitors being more than ten points off her total.
The same is true for the Masters division, where Sutton has the title in his pocket already.
As an added incentive, all cyclists who have participated in the series, including those who participate in the 10 mile time trial, will have the chance of winning one of a number of raffle prizes, including a Cayman Airways voucher, a Citizen watch donated by race sponsor Karim Awe, Casanova meal vouchers and free flights with Cayman Helicopters. Participants have to be present at the draw to claim their prizes, so the organisers urge everyone to come out to the event, whether to race or support the racers.