The latest road cycling series had an interesting result last week with a brave rider catching the established order by surprise in East End.
In the 57-mile road race – 38 miles for women and juniors – Barry Jones, in his typical attacking style, upset the whole Subway Classic Cycling Series order in an audacious move of the kind not seen in local races of late.
Languishing in ninth place, some four minutes, 30 seconds behind race leader Steve Abbott, Jones jumped out of the pack on 12 May just as the racing got under way after a short neutral zone between Morritt’s Tortuga and the official race start at Subway at theReef Resort.
Riding with pure panache, he quickly built up a lead over the main pack as he scurried over the main climb on the eastern end of the Queens Highway. Soon joined by Dennis Brooks, who waited to latch on after a mile of chasing, the two headed toward Old Man Bay with Brian Chin Yee and Brent Cunha in hot pursuit.
Brooks added some additional firepower to the break as they tried to keep away from the chasing duo.
For the next four miles, Cunha and Chin Yee had the leading pair in sight, with the main pack riding leisurely some ways behind.
Up ahead, the leading pair decided to ease off the throttle and recover a bit, allowing Chin Yee and Cunha to make the catch just after the Queen’s monument.
Further back, Jerome Ameline casually rode out of the bunch and with neither the race leader nor the other favourites giving chase. Ameline, a strong time triallist, who must have been surprised at the freedom he was given, upped the pace and quickly set about chasing down the leading four, eventually making the catching close to Botanic Park.
With no time checks on offer early, the five went about solidifying their leads. However, at the 10-mile mark problems occurred. Cunha got a flat tire and Chin Yee decided not to persist with the move.
This allowed Brooks and Ameline, who were on the front at the time, to open a gap.
Jones caught the leading duo just before the Frank Sound junction.
Ameline was rewarded with the maximum bonus seconds at the three primes along the 57-mile course.
After only a single lap, the trio had a two minutes, 30 seconds lead on the peloton and, with Ameline putting in some great pulls, the leading trio entered the final lap with a two-minute advantage over the rest.
The chasing group was reduced to about 20 riders by the efforts of Abbott and Michele Smith, who were seeing any chance of winning the race, and more importantly the classics title, disappear.
With 10 miles to go, Brooks, who was suffering with illness during the week, had to let Ameline and Jones go on without him.
With about six miles to go the duo was given a time gap of 1 minute and 8 seconds to the chaser and it appeared the effort would have been closed down before the finish as Ameline, who had put in a Herculean effort, was starting to falter. Jones was flagging too.
Further back Brooks had been caught by the battered and broken chasing pack who were still trying to get on terms with the day’s racing.
When the chasing group went through East End for the final time, Abbott took advantage of the undulating road and a strong head wind – taking a small group of riders including Smith, Marius Deysel, Steve Clements and Dennis Brooks – and rode away to form a smaller chase group. Smith eventually finished third.
A second group of about 12 riders contained all four of the lead riders competing in the master’s category – Chris Sutton, Vico Testori, Jerome “Pilot” Begot and Laurent “Watchman” Weber.
At the head of the proceeding Jones, came around a tiring Ameline for the win and bonus 10 seconds on offer on the line, with Ameline’s reward for his efforts a fine second place finish and a further five bonus seconds, but more importantly the series lead.
Going into Sunday’s event, Ameline led Jones, who rocketed up the overall standings in the series to second place, by 3 minutes, 29 seconds.
“This was a special win for me as I have tried many times, in similar fashion, only to see my efforts scuppered sometimes with the finish line in sight,” Jones said. “The closest I came before this was a second place in the National Road Race back in 2011.
“I had planned to go from the start hoping that Jerome, in typical fashion, would be the one to chase me down because he lay in third place in the standings and would have aspirations of the overall win.”