The cycling season is at full speed and events throughout this month are keeping riders and spectators busy.
On the Cayman Islands Cycling Association calendar, May means the Classics – races every Sunday for a month.
This season sees a revised competition intended to make the series even more exciting with a format adopted from stage races like the Tour De France.
The racing kicked off on 5 May with a 10-mile individual test against the clock, or race of truth, as it is commonly known.
In the end, the truth was that Steve Abbott extended his unbeaten streak.
Abbott blitzed the new course, over a distance three times longer than previous years, in a time of 20 minutes, 54 seconds and at an average speed of 28.7 miles per hour.
While dominant, this was not Abbott’s usually crushing display, even though he bettered this challenging course in a time over a minute faster than the recent flat race to the Rum course, as he was only able to beat Michele (Mitch) Smith, who also finished second in the Race to the Rum, by 26 seconds in a finish time of 21:22.
Smith in recent times has conceded, on average, roughly a minute to Abbott over time trials over this distance.
In fact, the top three was a repeat of the Race to the Rum with Jerome Ameline stopping the clock a further 27 seconds behind Smith.
Ameline, too, has closed the gap, not so much on Smith but significantly on Abbott and with the top three separated by only 53 seconds will make for interesting racing in the 57 mile road race this weekend.
In a interesting turn of events, the top 10 in the open category are all within five minutes of each other with positions three to 10 separated by a mere two minutes, which even though they may not make up time on the top three, means that the race for fourth place should be hotly contested with the experience of Dennis Brook and Barry Jones in the mix and new comers Brent Cunha, Pedro Lopez and the consistent Steve Clement who are showing good form.
The master’s category is also a close affair with the top four led by Laurent Weber, who finished in 23:11 – good enough for fourth overall on the day.
The contenders for that crown are Jerome Begot who finished just off the pace four seconds back in 23:14, which was also good enough for fifth overall.
Chris Sutton in a time of 23:50 and Vico Testori 24:44 rounded out the list of contenders with Rick Bengle in 29:02 rounding out the top five.
In the ladies category, the youthful Risa Golberg bettered her younger, inexperienced competitors in 25:20.
It was a typical display by Golberg, who finished 13 overall out of the 34 participants, even beating quite a lot of the men.
The ever green Celine Macken, who has seen her share of competition over the years, finished second in 27:50 with Katrina Stewart rounding out the top three in 31:28.
In what is becoming a norm for the cycling season this year for the cycling association was happy to see another new female racer, Bonnie Hurlston, on the circuit.
She finished fifth just behind a slightly more experienced Ceretta Harvey only in her second event. Ceretta rode her first event, the Lover’s Wall 5 mile TT, earlier in the season.
Golberg, the reigning top woman bike racer, looks to have a lock on the series after race one, but, of course, in cycling this is not a given.
Two juniors also competed with last year’s series winner Derron Kelly, who is much older than the tenacious Josh Weaver, his rival in this category.
Kelly put in a respectable time of 26:24, good enough for 17th on the day, a full 11.5 minutes ahead of Weaver.
“While not in contention for the win, we hope that Josh, with the assistance of his dad Chris, is able to complete the shortened juniors course and in fact the whole series, as he is showing immense potential for the future,” said Barry Jones, the cycling association’s vice president who is behind the revamped series and races this year which by all accounts have been exciting.