Reefathlon record was grand

With top local and international cycling talent attending, the second edition of the Reefathlon, hosted by the Reef Resort in East End, promised some great times.

Among the local racers, Jerome Ameline was expected to lead the pack, but with Jasper Mikkelsen in awesome shape after racing at both the Ironman and half-Ironman world championships in the past couple of weeks, he was certain to be pushed all the way to the line.

Much of the focus was on two visiting cyclists – Peter Stetina and Michael Joanisse.

Stetina is the reigning US under-23 time trial champion, and is set to join the professional ranks next year with team Garmin-Slipstream.

However, Stetina has been part of the team organisation for a number of years, racing in their under-23 development team, Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin, which aims to develop young talent to a level where they are ready to turn professional with Garmin-Slipstream.

Joanisse races for the Nativo Concept team in Canada and has racked up a number of good finishes in races, especially in his native Quebec.

Joanisse set the bar high early on, romping home in at time of 40:24, more than three minutes under Ameline’s existing course record. Michael Stomps, one of the local favourites and also an early starter, came in with a time of 44:44, giving an indication that the international riders were well ahead of the local competition. Another event hopeful, Mikkelsen showed that he would be the man to beat among the locals as he charged home in 42:52, setting a tough target for Ameline.

However, everyone was watching Stetina’s time, and starting third from last he soon started catching and passing those who had started ahead of him. As he crossed the line, he stopped the clock at 38:33, an almost five minute beating of Ameline’s previous course record.

All that remained to be seen was how close the top two finishers from the previous edition, Ameline and Eugene Bonthuys, could get to the time of Stetina.

As expected, neither could come even close, though Ameline managed to improve on his previous time and set a new local course record in doing so, setting a time of 42:46 and narrowly beating out Mikkelsen for third overall. Bonthuys finished in fifth, with Stomps, Johann Prinsloo, Jerome Begot, Steve Evans and Chris Graham rounding out the top ten.

A flying Laurent Weber claimed the veterans’ division in 47:33, handing Chris Sutton a rare defeat as he had to settle for second place.

Celine Macken showed that she had recovered very well from her recent broken arm with a storming 52:35 to claim the ladies’ title, with Pam Travers taking second in 54:15, followed by Helen Wanchope and Donna Harding.

Toby Sutton claimed the junior division in 52:59, with Julian Johnson second in 63:26.

Stetina’s win netted him a $1,000 bounty which had been offered as an incentive for a new course record.

As the fastest local cyclist, Ameline also walked away with a prize for his new local course record.

‘The Reef Resort is proud to have hosted another successful Reefathlon, in which international champions from Canada and the USA came down to compete,’ said Sarah-Jane Whitehill of the Reef Resort.

‘Congratulations to our local competitors who rose to the challenge and set fantastic new times. The Reefathlon is the perfect combination of a family beach break combined with cycling for both pros and amateurs.’

The visiting cyclists also enjoyed the social aspect of the event, from the pre-race pasta party and barbecue the night before to the socialising afterwards in the pool at the Reef Resort.

As a regular visitor to these shores, Stetina said he hoped to come back to Cayman often for some off season training. However, as he will be based in Spain next season, a quick visit to Cayman during the European racing season will not be likely. However, with snow currently covering his native Colorado, Stetina said the trip to Cayman was a great opportunity to work not only on his cycling, but on his tan as well.

The next event in the Reefathlon series will take place on 21 February.