Today's Date: 02 July 2016
Last Updated: 11 January 2016 17:07:40 EST
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Testori perfects his surprise

Testori surprised everyone with his strength.  Photo: Eugene Bonthuys

Michael Testori showed that Cayman’s young cyclists are becoming a threat to their more established counterparts as he out-gunned a powerful field at the Reefathlon cycling event on Sunday.

In spite of rainy weather, 57 participants took to the start line, which was a new record for the event. Fortunately, the weather held off during the ride, even though the roads were still damp.

The event, organised by the Reef Resort in East End, started with a social loop of 19 miles, which was completed at a pace that all the participating cyclists could hold. The field included youngsters taking part in their first big group ride, and even a cyclist with a child in a seat on the back of her bike.

Everyone completed the first loop together, but the pace shot up immediately as the speed limiters came off and the stronger cyclists moved to the front. The second loop was to determine the placings in the junior and ladies divisions and with big turnouts in both divisions, it was going to be a tough battle.

The continuing battle between Toby Sutton and Michael Testori in the juniors was expected to deliver fireworks, while Pam Travers was expected to perform well in the ladies’ division although the gap between the top females has dropped dramatically over the last year.

Even though the pace was lifted to above 25mph on the second lap, a large group approached the line together. However, it was Testori who managed to sprint clear, beating Sutton for the win, with Julian Johnson finishing third. Donna Harding was the surprise winner in the ladies division as she managed to pull clear of the group, with Travers in second and Andrea Roach taking third, less than half a bike length in front of Lisen McGladdery in fourth.

The third lap would decide the senior men and masters men divisions, but a number of the juniors elected to remain in the race and try their hand at beating their elders. The blustery conditions were ideal for a breakaway, and as the peloton started getting closer to the finish, the contenders were starting to get nervous.

Race favourite Jerome Ameline had already worked on his plan of attack during the second loop. He said: “I figured out that I could have my chances in the little hill of Blowholes to make an escape and try to hammer it until the end to keep the
advantage. When we started the third loop, I was sticking to the plan, saving my energy, waiting for the moment.”

However, his plan was almost undone when Chris Sutton, Chris Graham and Michael Testori launched an attack before Blowholes. However, Tom Stephens tried to bridge the gap and ended up dragging everyone, including Ameline, almost up to the rear wheel of the break. “Just before the connection, before East End town, I saw the opportunity and I made a surprise attack,” said Ameline. “Steve Evans was on my wheel at that time, and had the good reflex to follow, while Michael Testori had enough energy to catch the wheels when I passed the three escaped guys.”

Michele Smith, sensing the danger of the move, put in a gargantuan effort to bridge to the break, leaving a group of four in front of the peloton. “I would have preferred to be by myself but four people escaped meant at least a fourth position at the finish line,” said Ameline. “The tactic was now to keep the pace going but save as much as energy as possible for the final sprint.”

Expecting Smith to launch the attack, Ameline stayed on his wheel. However, it was Testori who went first.

Smith responded, but then pulled up with an apparent cramp. Ameline hesitated for a second, thinking that Smith had suffered a mechanical hiccup, but by the time he realised this was not the case, Testori was already far ahead.  Ameline gave it his all, but could not close the gap on Testori who crossed the line first. Ameline came second, disappointed that he had not been able to take the win, but elated for Testori. “Michael has been training for the last few month at Revolutions. We gave him plenty of tips to make him a better cyclist, the fact that he won made me very happy,” said Ameline. Evans was third, indicating a welcome return to form for one of the stalwarts of Cayman cycling, with Smith limping home in fourth.

Sutton repeated winning the masters division as he managed to hang with the main chase pack, while Laurent Weber came in a little off the pace for second place.

According to the organisers, the event lived up to its intention of bringing new faces into organised cycling and it is hoped that some of the participants will go on to become regulars at the cycling
events on Island.

“Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of the Reefathlon and it was great to see the event becoming ever more popular,” said Sarah-Jane Whitehill
of the Reef Resort.

“The Reefathlon supports the Cayman Islands Cancer Society and the Livestrong Foundation, with so many riders out on Sunday and hopefully more for future events, these charities will benefit enormously.”

The next event on the Cayman Islands Cycling Association calendar is the 10-mile time trial championship on 10 October, with the next Reefathlon event, a 19-mile time trial, on 21 November.


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