Top riders tested to their limits

The recently launched 53/11 Crankers cycling club hosted its first race of the season, the Ten Sails Cycle Challenge, on 23 and 24 January.

The racing, which took place over two days, included a 46-mile road race and an eight-mile individual time trial. One of the highlights of the event was the participation of four members of Jamaica’s Endurance Cycling Club, including top juniors Shacquille Sinclair and Marcel Hayles, as well as Tyrone Edwards and club president Mavin Anderson.

The team were out to challenge local competitors, hoping to overcome the home ground advantage through strong team riding.

The road race started from the Frank Sound Road junction and included two loops of the East End circuit before finishing at Colliers.

As the total time of the road race and the time trial would be used to calculate the overall winner of the challenge, it was very important for anyone with overall aspirations to get off to a good start with the road race.

The event started with a group of future cyclists leading off the racers, but as soon as the main group left the two mile neutral zone, the race was on. Numerous cyclists tried their luck early on, but when a select group pulled clear around the five mile mark, it was clear that the race win would be decided between the members of this group.

All four visiting members of the Endurance Cycling Club made the selection, as did Michele Smith and Barry Jones of 53//11 Crankers, Gary Clarke and Brian Chin Yee of Team Alliance, as well as individual competitors Jacob Luttermann and Perri Merren.

Smith made the next move, pulling clear of the group not too long after the selection had formed and quickly built up a lead of around 30 seconds over the group. The first cyclists to bridge the gap to Smith was Sinclair, who put in a great solo effort to ride across to Smith.

With two cyclists at the head of the race, the gap opened up and try as they might the chasing bunch could never bring the two escapees closer than 45 seconds. Hayles of Endurance tried to bridge to the leading pair with a big solo effort, but his attempt did not meet with the success of his team mate Sinclair and he was soon absorbed back into the chasing group.

Once the chasing group realised that the race for the win had been lost, they started trying to gain an individual advantage through repeated attacks. However, it was only about two miles from the line that Luttermann and Anderson managed to open up a gap over the group.

At the front, the experienced Smith was too quick for Sinclair, taking the line with a three second gap over his breakaway companion. More than six minutes later, Anderson out-sprinted Luttermann for third place, while Jones took best of the rest in fifth, a further three seconds back.

Helen Spiegel was the only female competitor on the day and did well to complete the course under challenging conditions.

The next day saw the cyclists take on an eight mile individual time trial from Frank Sound junction to Colliers. Due to the results of the previous day, barring incident the overall winner would be decided between Smith and Sinclair. However, lower down the standings the battle for third place overall was on, with a number of cyclists within striking distance.

The cyclists set out in reverse order, with the leader Smith starting last. Out on the course, one of the earlier starters, Chin Yee, was giving good account of himself, but would be left to rue the 10 minutes he lost to the leaders the previous day as his second place on the day failed to lift him into the top five overall.

In the battle for third place, Jones had the better of the rest of the challengers, as he came home well clear of Anderson, who had been holding third before the race, giving Jones third not only on the day, but also overall.

However, it was all about Smith, as he never looked to be challenged, finishing almost two minutes up on Chin Yee and almost three minutes on his closest competitor on overall, Sinclair.

This gave Smith his second win in as many days and a clear win in the overall competition, three minutes ahead of Sinclair and almost nine minutes up on Jones. Edwards moved up into fourth, with Anderson slipping back to fifth.

For race organiser Jones, the event was the culmination of a long-term vision he holds for cycling in Cayman. “I always had a vision that Cayman cycling could be packaged with the same pomp and circumstance of European races to pique the interest of the local viewing public.

“I just want to add my creative touch to an established product and show my passion for the sport with which I’ve had a long relationship,” said Jones, president of 53//11 Crankers cycling club.

Anderson, president of the visiting Endurance Cycling Club, was full of praise for the event and the Cayman Islands. “Our trip was a wonderful experience courtesy of the National carrier Cayman Airways and our stay with the Jones family was very hospitable.

“The locals were found to be extremely kind and friendly to us as new comers to their island. From a cyclist point of view; we found the island to be a cycle friendly environment, pot hole free, breath taking scenery, long costal strips and a clean place to race,” he said.

The next event on the cycling calendar is the Reefathlon on 20 February, while the next 53//11 Crankers cycling club event will take place in April featuring two races on Cayman Brac.