Smith snatches it in cagey race

The second race in the Cayman Classic Cycling Series took place on Sunday with racers taking on a 45 mile road race that took them on a tour of the Eastern Districts.

The event started with a neutral zone from Grand Harbour to Bodden Town, where the flag was dropped and the racing commenced.

There were numerous breakaway attempts early in the race, but few of them met with any measure of success. However, it was clear from early on that although some cyclists might be granted leeway to get into a move, none of the main contenders, including Steve Abbott, Jerome Ameline or Michele Smith would be allowed to make a move without it being shut down very quickly.

At the first intermediate sprint point, Jerome Begot launched an early attack to take maximum points on the line, with Abbott taking second and Smith taking third.

Perri Merren was very active, but received little help and was pulled back repeatedly. Michael Stomps tried to get away a number of times early on, but was faced with breakaway companions who were either unable or unwilling to work with him.

A move with Barry Jones was quickly pulled back by an attentive peloton. However, Stomps did not give up and as the peloton headed towards the Reef Resort, he managed to get clear of the pack once again. This time he was joined by Johan Heath and Jacob Luttermann. The group remained clear of the pack to the second intermediate sprint point, with Luttermann taking the line ahead of Stomps and Heath.

The field soon came back to them and this was followed by a number of accelerations as cyclists tried to break away, but to no avail. TJ Olivier and Gabe Rabess were also quite active in the moves, although neither could get a clear lead and spent a lot of time dangling in no-man’s land just ahead of the peloton.

Stomps refused to give up, and went clear again, leading the group on their way back through Bodden Town, and was joined by Merren as they pushed hard to make it to the line ahead of the chasing bunch. However, after a concerted effort by the peloton, the two exhausted escapees were caught around Spotts, with just a mile or so to go to the line as the peloton started to speed up for the finish.

As the speed lifted, the group started to fracture as the weaker cyclists started slipping away from those ahead of them, forcing those behind to try and find a way around them in order to remain in contention. This made the run in to the finish rather chaotic, with cyclists trying to get to the final roundabout just before the finish in a good position near the front. As expected in a big bunch finish, it was the track cycling skill Smith that won out on the day as he ripped clear of the field to win by a comfortable margin. He was followed across the line by the first and only junior competitor, Michael Testori, who produced an excellent sprint to come in ahead of Abbott, who narrowly edged Ameline for second in the men’s division. Barry Jones and Marius Deysel made up the rest of the top five in the men’s division.

However, the for a number of cyclists, the tactics employed during the event made for a frustrating day in the saddle.

“The race was frustrating. Everybody was watching everybody,” said Ameline. The result meant that Abbott maintained his lead in the series, with 29 points from 
the first two events.

Ameline remained in second place on 22 points, although he lost some ground to Abbott, while Jerome Begot moved up to third on 16 points, equal with the winner of the second race, Smith, who made his entry into the standings after missing the first race of the series.

Meanwhile, in the ladies’ division, Pam Travers did exceedingly well to stay with the front group all the way to the line, allowing her to take a clear win, with Caroline Cahill finishing in second and Justine Plenkiewicz in third.

Travers holds a clear lead in the competition on a maximum 30 points, with Cahill in second on 24 points and Plenkiewicz in third on 17.

Chris Sutton continued his dominance in the masters’ division, taking the win over Laurent Weber, who had to settle for second. Sutton also has the maximum 30 points, with Laurent Weber and Bill Bewley sharing second place on 12 points each.

Abbott, the president of the Cayman Islands Cycling Association, thanked the volunteers for their help in making the event a success and also thanked Wil Bignal who acted as race photographer.

The third event of the series will take place on Sunday 15 May, with cyclist taking on a circuit race which will see them complete a short circuit heading up Lime Tree Bay Avenue to the roundabout, then left down the bypass, before turning left again onto West Bay Road to make their way back to Lime Tree Bay Avenue. Cyclists will race around the course for an hour before a bell will indicate a final three laps. It is an ideal event for spectators, as the cyclists can come flying past the same spot often, and the corners also make for very exciting racing.

The event will start at 7am, with entries only accepted online through until 3pm on Saturday.