When it comes to cycling in Cayman, one event stands head and shoulders above all other. That might be because the one event is actually a series of five events aimed at finding the most complete road cyclist in the Cayman Islands.
This year the Cayman Classic Series will kick off with a 40 mile road race on Sunday 29 April, followed by a 5km individual time trial on Sunday 6 May, a circuit race on Sunday 13 May, a 10 mile individual time trial on Sunday 20 May and a final 65 mile road race on Sunday 27 May.
Cyclists will score points for their position in each event, with the overall winner being the rider with highest total at the conclusion of the final road race. The series will feature categories for men, women, masters and juniors, with leader’s jerseys to be awarded to the leader on points in the men’s, women’s and masters’ divisions after each race of the series.
The first road race will start from the Grand Harbour parking lot at 7am, with registration from 6am to 6.45am. The race will feature a neutral zone down to Ocean Club, from where racing will officially begin. Cyclists will head out through Bodden Town towards East End, continuing around the coast, along the Queen’s Highway before making a left down Frank Sound Road. At the end of Frank Sound Road the cyclists will turn right in the direction of Bodden Town, making their way along the coast to the finish line just past Lantern Point after which they will continue cycling to Grand Harbour.
The route will also feature two sprint points along the way, but unlike previous years the points scored at the sprint points will not count towards the overall competition but towards a separate sprint competition.
Due to the relatively short race distance, the 40 mile road race is characterised by attacks from early on in the race as the more adventurous cyclists attempt to get away from the group. The race is usually especially active along the Queen’s Highway, as stronger cyclists try to exploit the tired legs brought about by the climb just after the Reef Resort. Although these attacks are usually brought back, it does manage to shed many of the cyclists who still need to do a bit of work on their fitness, leaving a select group to contest the sprint at the end.
The defending champion in the men’s division, Steve Abbott, will be back in contention, in spite of an early-season injury that had sidelined him for a number of weeks. “I am feeling strong but I have my off days and I am a little disappointed not to be at full strength. However, I am glad just to be able to reach the start line after six weeks out with a broken elbow,” said Abbott.
This may leave Abbott short of the form that allowed him to take last year’s edition in a nail-biting battle against Jerome Ameline that went down to the final event of the series. The duo are likely to join battle once more, but there are numerous other cyclists who are expected to mount a serious challenge, including former series champion Michele Smith as well as Michael Stomps. A number of other local cyclists have also been showing good form lately and could well emerge as contenders in the first race of the series.
In the women’s event, Pam Abbott will once again be the cyclist to beat, with her experience in winning the event twice over the last two years certain to stand her in good stead. However, she is likely to face a substantial challenge from the likes of Gill Comins and Donna Harding.
Among the masters, Chris Sutton has been dominant over the last couple of years, but Laurent Weber has always mounted a serious challenge to his supremacy, chalking up a number of wins along the way. However, this year the age bracket for competing the masters’ division has been lowered to 40 in stead of 50, which could see new title challengers arise.
Online entry for the series will take place through Cayman Active, with entry for each of the five events in the series is $15 per event, with a discounted rate of $50 for entry into all five events of the series. Juniors pay only $10 per event or $30 for all five events. Cyclists will sign one waiver for the entire series, but will be required to sign in on race day for each event.
Cyclists have to select the category they wish to enter at the start of the series, with juniors 18 and under and masters 40 and over free to enter the open division if they so choose. However if they choose to do so they will be ranked with the other cyclists in the open division and will not be allowed to gain points in their age group competition.
A race number will be assigned to each cyclist and this will be kept for the reminder of the series. Entries on race day will incur a $25 entry fee.
There will also be pre-entry available on Saturday 28 April from 11am to 2pm at the Cayman Helicopters office on North Church Street.