Today's Date: 28 June 2016
Last Updated: 11 January 2016 17:07:40 EST
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Heath surprises usual suspects

Johan Heath took an unexpected yet highly deserved win in Sunday’s Cayman Road Race Championships.

The event, which was shortened to 40 miles rather than its usual 60 miles, saw a large field turn up to participate, ranging from top cyclists and triathletes to social cyclists and newcomers to the sport.

As the cyclists lined up at the start, a number of them seemed nervous about the 40-mile circumnavigation of the Eastern Districts that awaited them. The route took cyclists from Grand Harbour down through Bodden Town and East End and back to George Town via Frank Sound Road.

The event started with a neutral zone from Grand Harbour to Bodden Town Police Station during which the speed was kept at a manageable level and the group remained together.

As soon as the bunch left Bodden Town, the racing started in earnest, with Ray Welds attacking multiple times in an attempt to get away from the bunch. However, the first attack to put some daylight between itself and the bunch consisted of Chris Sutton and Brian Chin Yee. They were soon joined by Heath, Welds and Steve Abbott and the five worked together well before being absorbed by the chasing peloton. In a move he said he learnt by watching the Tour de France, Heath attacked again as soon as they break was neutralised, and managed to open up a substantial gap on the bunch.

“As soon as the peloton caught us I felt that that would be my best chance to attack as everyone was relieved to have caught us and I decided to take the peloton by surprise,” said Heath.

It was a classy and gutsy move that certainly earned Heath quite a couple of style points. Welds eventually managed to get off the front of the bunch and fought his way over to Heath’s wheel, after which the two worked together to build on the lead Heath had established.

However, while the two cyclists in the break worked together well, the bunch behind failed to muster a coordinated chase effort as the individual cyclists put there own chances of a good finish ahead of the possibility of bringing the break back into the fold. Abbott eventually decided to sacrifice his own chance of victory in order to drag the bunch back to the breakaway, but although he managed to close the gap considerably, he received little in the way of assistance from the rest of the bunch. He eventually blew up, exhausted by the effort, which immediately took the wind out of the sails of the chasing peloton again as no other cyclists were willing to take up the chase.

This left the two breakaway companions to fight it out for the win.

“I did not feel too confident about winning the race if it came down to a finish line sprint, so I decided to attack and go as hard as possible two miles before the finish which was on the uphill section of the dual carriage way just before Spotts Beach,” said Heath.

Heath opened a gap on Welds and kept the pace high as he pushed for the line. Heath finished well clear to take the win, with a frustrated Welds crossing the finish line in second place.

As the main bunch approached the line, it was perennial podium finished and time trial specialist Jerome Ameline who took the final podium spot ahead of Marius Deysel in fourth.

Toby Sutton finished in the main bunch to claim the juniors’ title, just ahead of elder brother Laurence and father Chris Sutton who claimed the masters’ title.

Pam Travers continued her excellent run of form as she claimed the ladies’ title to add to her collection of titles which includes the Cayman Classics Series.

“I am ecstatic! It is the first cycling race I have ever won,” said Heath after the race.

The next event on the cycling calendar is the Reefathlon, which is scheduled to take place at the Reef Resort in East End on Sunday, 26 September. The event will feature three loops of the 19-mile Reefathlon circuit. The first loop will be completed at a social pace of 16 miles per hour with all the cyclists remaining together. The second loop will be open to all participants, but will be completed at race pace, with the ladies and juniors sprinting for a result at the end of the second lap. The third and final lap will again be contested at race pace, with the open men and masters men sprinting it out for places at the finish.

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