Challenge was a heart stopper

Local cyclists took up a new challenge with the three stage, two day Cayman Challenge Cycle Series recently.

It featured three separate races, consisting of a 10 mile individual time trial on Sunday 12 June, followed by a 70 mile road race the following Monday morning, and a 45 minute plus three lap criterium around Cayman International School on Monday evening.

It was organised by 53//11 Stingers Cycling Club and featured local teams as well as a team from Endurance Cycling Club in Jamaica.

The overall winner was decided on the lowest combined time for all three events, with the team competition being decided on the times of the fastest two team members in each of the three events.

The event was run in memory of Beatman Ebanks, a leading light in local cycling circles, who passed away a couple of years ago as a result of heart disease. With the popularity of time trials locally, it was expected that local cyclists would dominate the podium in the first stage, which started at Cayman International School and took cyclists out along the bypass to West Bay Road before turning towards West Bay and the turnaround at John A. Cumber School.

The start list saw the faster cyclists take off towards the end of the field, with Michele Smith claiming the fastest time in 25:06. He was followed by Henry Streather of team Lost in Cayman just under a minute back in 26:05 with Johann Prinsloo a further second behind him in third.

He was followed by another two Lost in Cayman team mates Marius Deysel in 26:22 and Eugene Bonthuys a further second behind. This gave the team a commanding two minute lead in the team competition, followed by 53//11 Crankers (Barry Jones 27:04 and Jacob Luttermann 27:22), with Endurance in third.

The road race promised to be a very tactical affair, with many cyclists expecting Endurance to ride a very attacking race in an attempt to make up for their performance in the time trial the previous morning, with Lost in Cayman looking to protect their lead in the team competition.

However, once the flag dropped at the end of the neutral zone, it was Barry Jones of 53//11 Crankers who took off, launching a number of attacks as the peloton headed out towards Bodden Town.

Whenever Jones was dragged back into the bunch he attacked again, forcing the other teams to work while his Crankers team-mates could sit in the bunch. As the bunch turned up Frank Sound Road and then down the Queen’s Highway, Jones remained dangling tantalisingly close off the front of the bunch, with members of the Endurance team and his own team managing to join him.

However, the break was eventually pulled back due to hard work at the front of the peloton by TJ Olivier and members of Lost in Cayman.

As the peloton passed through East End, Brian Chin Yee, along with Luttermann (53//11 Crankers) managed to ride off the front of the group. Their lead soon grew substantially, but with Endurance not keen on chasing, and Lost in Cayman being whittled down to two members, the chase was disorganised and they managed to build a substantial lead. As the peloton made a circuit through West Bay the heat started to tell on the peloton, with a number of cyclists suffering cramps.

As the two leaders approached the finish line in front of Roland’s Garden, they still held a substantial lead over the chasing pack. Chin Yee was the stronger of the two leaders and managed to take the win, but Luttermann, who finished in the same time, did not walk away empty handed as he managed to take 2:30 out of the chasing pack, and in so doing claim the lead in the overall competition as he had gained enough time over Streather and Deysel, who slipped to second and third respectively.

Jones crossed the line third in spite of his attacking riding earlier on, followed by Deysel and Karl Douglas (Endurance) with the other cyclists trickling in after what had been a very tough competition. Luttermann’s lead was also enough to give 53//11 Crankers the lead in the team competition.

The morning also featured a mountain bike race, with Craig Merren taking the win ahead of John Ferguson.

Before the main event of the afternoon, there were a couple of kids’ races as well, with Amaury Jones taking the win in the two to six year category, followed by Roger Johnson in second and Akeem Baker in third. In the six to nine year category, Hugh-Anthony Jones kept it in the family as he claimed the win, with Andrew Webber taking second place.

Due to the tough race in the morning, a number of cyclists did not take the start for the criterium in the afternoon, but there were also some fresh legs with a number of competitors having elected to skip the morning’s racing.

The circuit was tight and with a fast pace from early on it did not take long for many of the cyclists to be dropped from the group, until only a very select number remained. However, it was on the final lap where all the action took place.

On the very first corner of the final lap, Luttermann, the leader of the overall competition, was forced to brake violently as another cyclist cut across his line. In the process his rear tyre exploded and Luttermann narrowly avoided crashing into a barrier, ending up in the bushes by the side of the road, still upright.

Michael Testori, who had been on Luttermann’s wheel, almost came down, but along with a couple of other cyclists were taken off the back of the bunch.

The high speed and manoeuvring for positions made it quite dangerous, and coming out of the final corner Smith, who had been sitting in second wheel, was pushed wide and ended up hitting a parked vehicle. This left the path clear for Ashek Wright of 53//11 Crankers to solo to the win, with Deysel taking second just ahead of Jones.

As Luttermann had crashed on the final lap, he was awarded the same time as the bunch, which meant that he took the overall victory, with team 53//11 Crankers also taking the team title. Deysel took second overall, as did his team Lost in Cayman, with Jones rounding out the individual podium.

The team competition brought a new tactical component to the racing, as some team members sacrificed their own chances at a good finish in support of the rest of the team, with the outcome of the event clearly reflecting the successful tactics employed by the 53//11 Crankers team to out-fox the other competitors.

The event formed the third and final event of the Cayman Challenge Series, with Endurance claiming the overall team trophy for the series.

The beneficiary of the event was the Cayman Heart Fund, with sponsors Guavaberry Marketing, Camana Bay and Cayman Airways playing a vital role in getting the event off the ground.