For the second week running Barry Jones jumped out of the pack early to try and initiate a break, continuing his aggressive style of riding for the Subway Cycling Classics series so far.
This time around however, Jones’s move was short lived as Steve Abbott quickly countered and with no one following in tow, he set about gaining time on the peloton in the race around George Town’s Governor’s Harbour.
And for the second race in succession Michele Smith, who was only 26 seconds out of the lead after the opening time trial, now lying in fourth place with a similar time difference to the third place slot, showed no interest in going on the offensive, content to let others make the running which has become his signature style.
With Smith disinterested Jones, who is second on the General Classification, did not try to pursue Abbott, content in allowing the lone rider some freedom ahead of the bunch.
This was a calculated move despite the fact that Abbott was in third place in the GC, only 17 seconds behind him.
“When Abbott came past me with no one in tow I didn’t panic and quickly assessed the situation,” Jones said.
“I decided that it would be better for me to go back to the protection of the peloton. The pressure was off for me because I had won the week before.
“Furthermore, the back side of the course was very windy and it would be hard to stay away especially with the likes of Jerome Ameline and mainly Smith, who both had aspiration of a race win.
“Also, the fact that Smith, who was 42 seconds behind out of second place, was with me it meant that I would finish the day in no worse than third position should Abbott stay away and accumulate enough points to take second place.”
Given room to ride Abbott quickly built up a 30 second lead but, with the group riding at a consistently high pace eliminating lesser riders along the way, including Steve Clements who lay in fifth Place overall in the series his lead, was never extended further than that.
For the next 11 laps of the 1.4 mile course, the chasers who were now seven, kept Abbott on a short leash and within sight, seemingly using him as the carrot for their chase while hanging him out to dry.
Unable to sustain his effort and with Ameline and Smith driving the pace behind Abbott was eventually brought to heel.
For his efforts Abbott had taken two primes, a total of ten bonus seconds, reducing his deficit Jones and second place by nine seconds, as he too was able to accumulate some of the lesser bonuses.
Ameline, who was 3 minutes 57 seconds ahead of Abbott was not threatened by the move despite losing a handful of seconds.
The biggest loser to that point was Smith, who conceded four seconds pushing him further away from the third, and final, overall podium position.
Smith had ridden the Subway Cycling Classics as if disinterested in digging himself out of the lesser positions and more content with letting the likes of Abbott, Jones and Ameline make the running while he battled for minor bonuses here and there.
The catch of Abbott meant that relentless pace eased a little. This allowed Smith, Jones and Ameline to take back some of the earlier lost time by taking all bonus seconds on offer in the third and final prime as Abbott, probably tired from his efforts, was unable to contest the sprint.
When the bell sounded signalling three laps to go after an hour of racing high speed racing, all of the major players including the top three in the series Ameline, Jones and Abbott in that order, were still in contention for the win and Jones was looking comfortable to repeat for the second week running.
Smith, who is as dominant in the Circuit races/Criteriums as Abbott is to the time trials, had other ideas however. Holding third wheel going into the final corner and barring any incident this was his race to lose.
Out of the final corner for what was a relatively short sprint, Smith, Ameline, Jones and a conspicuous Marius Deysel, who never seems to put his nose to the business end of races except when the finish line is in sight, opened the throttles in a mad dash for the line.
Smith immediately established a slight lead while Jones and Ameline battled tooth and nail for second place.
Smith took the flowers by a bike length over Ameline who was able to hold off a fast charging Jones pipping him on the line for second by mere inches. Deysel, who could not find away between Jones and Ameline had to be settle with fourth.
Ameline, Jones, Abbott and Smith all go into the final race on Sunday in that order for the series with the day’s battle of attrition having effected little change between them.
Clements however was not so lucky relinquishing his fifth place to Dennis Brooks who again rode a super race, having only returned to the bike like Jones, after both had taking extended sabbatical from the cycling scene. Jones in fact had taken 18 months off which seemed to have rejuvenated him.
With Vico Testori who finished third last week, opting to pass on the day’s racing, Jerome Begot, Chris Sutton and Laurent Weber, who made up the top four last week made up the top three this week, a similar finishing order.
Testori’s absence means that he is no longer in contention for a top three finish overall in the series for the category. Risa Golberg and Derron Kelly riding mostly in the company of each other for most of the morning took the honours for the third week running in their respective women’s and junior categories.
The second and third place women saw a reversal of finishing order from last week as Ceretta Harvey was able to distance Katrina Ebanks for second place.
Josh Weaver, the only other junior in that category, was able to make it successfully around the course for the hour to ensure that he is still in contention for second overall when the series concludes next weekend.