Badger’s tenacity nets the title

The 60-mile road race was the fourth event in the Cayman Classic Cycling Series on Sunday and it included two loops of the East End circuit, starting with a neutral zone from Grand Harbour to Bodden Town.

The first big attack came from Jerome Ameline, but this was quickly neutralised by Steve Abbott. More attacks followed, with Barry Jones and Patrick Smith also trying their hand.

Perri Merren finally managed to get away from the peloton and together with Michael Stomps started building a good lead. However, even though the two man break worked well together, they could not build a large enough gap until Johan Heath and Gabe Rabess managed to bridge to them. The four cyclists worked well together, at one point holding a lead of around 90 seconds on the peloton. The group managed to stay clear through the first sprint point of the day, with Merren claiming first, followed by Heath and Stomps.

However, Michele Smith and Abbott with the assistance of Steve Evans, Chris Graham and Stephen Badger, a visiting cyclist, lifted the pace and a final huge effort by Graham through East End ensured the break was brought back as they passed Ocean Frontiers. Once again the pace told on the peloton, with leading junior Michael Testori, leading lady Pam Travers and second placed veteran Laurent Weber all losing contact. This prompted leading master Chris Sutton to move to the front and help drive the pace in order to prevent the return of his rival.

At the second sprint, with the group together, Smith took first, follwed by Graham and Abbott.

Shortly after the sprint Ameline launched another attack down the right, but was quickly closed down by Abbott and the rest. However, Ameline would not give up that easily and repeatedly attempted to get away, but to no avail.

As the peloton turned back towards George Town, Stomps, Badger, Rabess and TJ Olivier managed to get small lead over the peloton. Abbott then made a move to bridge the gap, with Smith and Marius Deysel coming across with him.

As the group had now grown substantially and with Graham and Ameline chasing hard, it all came together again just before Bodden Town. As the group reorganised, Olivier hit them hard and only Badger made the jump across. The two worked well together and soon built up a solid lead.

Stomps broke away on his own in an attempt to chase them down, but it was too little too late as Olivier and Badger lined up for the finish. Olivier did not have the legs to challenge Badger in the final sprint for the line, settling for second behind the visitor. Stomps managed to remain clear of the peloton for third, with Jones leading the bunch home, followed by Ameline, Smith and Abbott.

Travers claimed her fourth win on the trot in the ladies’ division, followed by Caroline Cahill and Justine Plenkiewicz, while Sutton won the masters’ division over Weber in second. Testori took his fourth consecutive win in 
the junior division.

According to race winner Badger, a regular visitor to the Island, he holds the race in high regard.

“The Cayman Classic is an auspicious event that I am honoured to have won and to be a part of on Sunday. I am humbled by the diverse cycling talent on the island. Congratulations to all the cyclists, event organisers, volunteers and families involved,” he said.

With only the final 19 mile time trial on Sunday 29 May remaining, everything is up for grabs in the men’s division. Abbott still leads on 47 points, but is not only three points ahead of Ameline, who in turn is four points ahead of defending champion Smith. Travers has the ladies’ title all but sewn up, with a 12 point lead over second placed Caroline Cahill, with Sarah Superfine and Justine Plenkiewicz tied for third. In the masters’ category, Sutton’s win last weekend left him with an unassailable lead, and he will walk away with the title once again, regardless of the outcome of the final race in the series. The same goes for junior Testori, who has also wrapped up the title with one race to go.

Entries for the event, which will start and finish at the Reef Resort in East End, are available through caymancycling.com, with entries closing at 
3pm on Saturday.

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