Riders gear up for championship

Cyclists from across Cayman will gather on Sunday to contest the Cayman National Road Race Championships.

The event will feature a new route, starting from the Lighthouse Restaurant and completing two loops of the East End circuit before finishing just past the top of Lovers’ Wall. The 42 mile event is somewhat shorter than previous editions of the championship, but according to the organisers this was done to make the racing more intense, not easier.

“We selected the new route and race distance to make the racing exciting from the moment the flag is dropped at the end of the neutral zone,” said Steve Abbott, the president of the Cayman Islands Cycling Association.

“The two loops of the East End circuit provide plenty of challenging terrain and shifting winds, with the new finish up past Lovers’ Wall promising a more selective sprint for the line than the large bunch sprints that have characterised many races recently. We could see some new faces on the podium this year,” he continued.

The finishing straight feature a deceptive drag up to the line, with the wind often playing a role along the stretch of road as well, which will make it very difficult for cyclists to time the sprint correctly in what is likely to become a tactical battle rather than one that will be won by brute strength.

The local cycling community has been revving up for the race, with many cyclists doing some ‘secret training’ in addition to the regular Sunday morning group rides. They have been out early in the morning or after work in the evening, piling on the miles in an attempt to get an edge over the competition come race day. Some cyclists have even been ‘motor pacing’, a training technique where a cyclist will sit in the slipstream of a scooter or car to simulate riding in a bunch of cyclists at very high speed.

All of this training is sure to result in a very competitive field come Sunday.

The event will be contested in four categories, with open men, women, juniors and masters racing for their own championships, even though the whole group will start the event together.

Among the men the field is very open and the race will therefore be difficult to control. Michele Smith is always among the favourites as he has a very strong sprint, while Abbott is also a contender due to his ability to accelerate quickly and open up a gap. However numerous other cyclists have staked their claim recently, including the likes of Brian Chin Yee, who won the road race in the recent Beatman Ebanks Memorial race, as well as Barry Jones, who is always very 
competitive. However, if the favourites mark one another too closely, it could present an opportunity for some of the less fancied contenders to make a play for the win as well.

In the other categories it is somewhat easier to designate favourites, with Pam Travers leading the way for the women after a strong performance in Ironman Switzerland, Michael Testori leading the way for the juniors and Chris Sutton expected to take the win in the masters’ division.

The event will start at 6.30am from the Lighthouse Restaurant, with a neutral zone until the peloton has passed the Franks Sound Road junction. From there the cyclists will proceed through East End and along the Queen’s Highway before turning left down Frank Sound Road. At the junction, the cyclists will turn left again and complete a second loop of the circuit, before sprinting it out for glory on their third passage across the finish line just after Lovers’ Wall.

Registration for the event will take place at the start on race day, and the entry fee is $10.After finishing the event, participants are encouraged to make their way back to the start at the Lighthouse Restaurant where refreshments will be available and where the prize presentation will take place.

The organisers stressed that participants have to adhere to the rules of the road. Anyone crossing the centre line of the road will be subject to disqualification, as will anyone using tribars during the event.

“This is a road race championship, so tribars have no place in the event,” said Abbott.

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