The cycling scene is at its most vibrant right now and that was so evident on Sunday at the final time trial of the season.
A large crowd descended outside of the Paradise Bar and Grill on the waterfront, with all eyes on the men’s competition for a possible closing twist in the Cayman Classic series.
Steve Abbott was just ahead of Jerome Ameline in the standings but if he finished lower than seventh down the order, the Flying Frenchman would be exclaiming: ‘merci’ at the end.
Ameline is a time trial specialist totally fired up for the 10 mile course down to the roundabout at Grand Harbour and back to the finish at Paradise.
Caroline Heal had already built up a large enough lead in the women’s competition to allow her to stay in bed, but she still turned up for a final ride.
They set off at one minute intervals and Ameline did not disappoint, fastest on the day with 21 minutes and 18 seconds., one second faster than last year. James Bebarfald kept everyone informed with his expert commentary.
Sizzling time but would it be enough? Abbott finished in 22:19 and fifth overall, so securing the championship.
Mitchell Smith was second (21:56), Michael Stomps was third (22:02) and Jasper Mikkelsen fourth (22:06).
Steve Evans was sixth, Barry Jones seventh Brian Chin Lee eighth, Chris Graham ninth and Gary Clarke tenth.
Abbott finished in the standings with 40 points, Ameline 37, Smith 27 and Somps was fourth on 23.
Heal amassed 50 points in the championship and joint second was Julie-Ann Pearson and Toni Pinkerton on 34. Annele Rabie’s 19 points earned her third place.
Celine Macken, the perennial campaigner, was fastest woman on Sunday in a sizzling 26:48, with Heal 19 seconds slower. Pearson was third and Pinkerton fourth.
Chris Sutton was his usual masterful self, winning in 25:19 to take the, eh, masters title ahead of Max Obreist, Bill Gerlack and John ‘Mr Recumbent’ Broad. Sutton’s son Toby took the junior title.
Karim Awe of the Cayman Insurance Centre was again the major sponsor, fittingly on the day before the official start of the hurricane season.
Awe handed out the prizes, including a Citizen watch he donated. The random prizes included a Cayman Airways voucher, Casanova meal, Cayman Helicopters flights, Red Sail Sports vouchers and classes at Revolutions.
Curiously, the prizes mainly went to the fastest riders and organisers, including Evans, Stomps, Sutton, Clarke and Ameline. (Maybe McKeeva should send his forensic auditors in!)
Evans had some cheery news: top pro Peter Luttenburger who loves Cayman’s cycling scene is hoping to convince Mark Cavendish to honeymoon here when he gets married at the end of the year.
Cavendish is one of the world’s greatest pro cyclist and a visit from him would raise Cayman’s reputation in the sport a couple of notches.