The Reefathlon bicycle race on Sunday 20 February saw 44 cyclists turn out to take part in a three loop race, starting from the Reef Resort in East End and taking in three loops of the 19-mile East End circuit.
The first lap was completed at a social pace, allowing newcomers and more social cyclists to mingle with some of the top cyclists on Island and get a taste of cycling in a large group.
The cyclists wound their way along the Queen’s Highway, down Frank Sound Road and past the Blowholes and through East End at a leisurely pace, giving everyone a chance to appreciate the scenery and have a relaxed chat.
However, all of that changed on the second loop, which was contested at race pace, with the ladies and the juniors sprinting it out for the win at the end of the loop, while the open men and veterans would continue on to a third lap.
As the pace picked up on the second lap, gaps began to open up as some of the stronger cyclists moved to the front.
By the time the group hit the line at the end of the second lap, Michael Testori (50:38) had managed to open up a small gap on Toby Sutton (50:44) to take the junior division, with Julian Johnson (58:10) finishing in third place.
Among the ladies, Donna Harding (54:00) took an imperious win, finishing more than four minutes clear of Helen Spiegel (58:40) in second place, with Elizabeth Berns (1:02:12) finishing in third.
In the race for overall glory, Barry Jones fired the first salvo, launching an early attack only to be reeled back in by Jerome Ameline, who then set off on his own until he was joined by Michele Smith. However, Smith and Ameline failed to work together and was reabsorbed by the chasing bunch.
Shortly thereafter, a crash split the peloton, with a couple of cyclists continuing on while others stopped to wait for the crash victim to rejoin.
After the group behind had reorganised, Ameline mounted a concerted effort to pull back the leaders, eventually managing to regain contact. However, his pace had decimated the field, with only a handful of cyclists managing to ride across the gap with him to set up a select group of cyclists at the front of the race.
As soon as the two groups had come together, Jones launched a counter move, but after his attacking riding earlier in the race this was a bridge too far, and the bunch closed him down. Suffering from cramps, Jones could eventually only manage tenth place, meagre reward for a hard day of racing.
As the leaders came up to the line, Smith opened the sprint early, but Ameline still had enough left in the tank to respond and overtake him in the rush for the line to claim the win in 1:37:19.
He was followed home by Chris Graham (1:37:21) with Smith (1:37:25) hanging on for third ahead of Marius Deysel in fourth.
Among the veterans, Chris Sutton was too strong for the rest of the field, finishing in 1:38:19, well clear of Laurent Weber (1:40:28) in second and Roger Wood (1:47:44) in third.
If the aggressive racing showcased at the event is anything to go by, the Cayman Classic series in May could see some of the best racing the local cycling scene has produced in many years.