On a rain drenched day that would have deterred most from venturing outdoors, never mind riding a bike, Cayman’s cyclists showed they are made of sterner stuff. Not only did a good number turn out for the fourth event in the Cayman Classic cycling series, but three new course records were set, with a fourth being equalled.
The event took the form of a 10 mile individual time trial starting from Paradise Grill on South Church Street, with cyclists setting off at one minute intervals for a journey that took them down South Sound to the turnaround point just short of the Grand Harbour roundabout.
With the rain bucketing down during much of the event, some cyclists encountered problems with eye-wear fogging up, while all suffered from reduced braking ability due to the wetness. Then again, judging by the times, the inability to brake might have made them faster.
In the junior division Andy Diaz triumphed over the weather and his competition, romping home with a new junior course record of 23:42, well clear of Derron Kelly in second place.
In the masters’ division, Gabe Rabess managed to take his fourth win on the trot, breaking the previous course record in the process with a time of 22:51. Chris Sutton finished in second place, a mere five seconds in front of Laurent Weber in third.
In the ladies’ division, a smaller field than usual turned out for the event, with just three of the competitors braving the elements. Division leader Risa Goldberg put in a great ride, avenging her defeat in the five kilometre time trial earlier in the season with a commanding win. Her time of 25:52 matches the course record set by Justine Plenkiewicz. Carien Roberts-Harcombe finished in second position for the fourth time during the series, just six seconds ahead of Pam Abbott in third.
The men’s division also saw a much reduced field take the start, but it promised to be a hard fought battle as the competitors looked to build up points in the most closely contested division in the series. With course record holder Jerome Ameline in attendance, as well as Steve Abbott who set a new course record in the second race of the series, the overall leader Michele Smith looked set to face a serious challenge to his lead.
In spite of a solid effort by Michael Stomps, who finished in fourth, he could not avoid being caught and passed by a flying Ameline, who crossed the line in a new course record. However, he would only hold the record for some 30 seconds before Abbott zoomed across the line in 20:46. With Smith starting last of the contenders, he would have to set a new course record in order to hold on to his series lead. However, in spite of a very good effort he could not match Abbott or Ameline, crossing the line in 21:47 for third place.
This means that Abbott will go into the final event of the series on 77 points, with a narrow four point lead over Smith on 73, with Ameline is another seven points back in third. Unless Smith wins the event, all Abbott has to do to claim the series is to finish within one place of Smith. Although Ameline still has a theoretical chance of taking the series title, he would have to win the event and hope that both Smith and Abbott finish well down the order – a very unlikely scenario. However, having won every single sprint prime in the series thus far, Ameline does seem assured of taking the points competition.
In the ladies’ division, Golberg’s three wins have given her an almost insurmountable lead over Roberts-Harcombe is second place. In order to lose the title, not only would Golberg not have to finish the final race, but Roberts-Harcombe would still have to finish in the top three.
In the masters’ division Rabess’ four straight wins mean that he already has the title sewn up and would not even have to compete in the final event, as second-placed Weber is more than 25 points behind him. However, rather than rest on his laurels, Rabess is likely to go for a clean sweep in the series.
The junior division is still open, but Kelly has a handsome 11 point lead over second placed Diaz, who still has a theoretical chance of taking the title.
The deciding race in the series will take the form of a gruelling 65 mile road race, starting from Grand Harbour at 7am on Sunday and taking in two laps of the East End circuit. It promises to be a very tactical race, at least in the men’s division where the title challenge is very finely balanced. This may well play into the hands of the cyclists who no longer have a shot at the overall title, as the main title contenders may well be content to let a couple of cyclists escape up the road.
In the junior division Andy Diaz triumphed over the weather and his competition, romping home with a new junior course record