High hopes for medal-chasing cyclists
Matthew Oliveira, Kaden Hopkins and Alyssa Rowse are primed to shine at the Junior Caribbean Cycling Championships in Barbados this weekend.
Peter Dunne, the Bermuda Bicycle Association president, has high expectations for the island’s top three junior riders and has tipped them for medal glory in their season finale.
All three excelled at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Nassau, Bahamas, in July, with Oliveira wining gold in the boys’ time-trial and bronze in the road race, and Rowse bronze in the girls’ time-trial.
They also represented Bermuda at the UCI Road World Championships in Bergen, Norway, in September.
Bermuda’s team, which also includes Conor White, Nicholas Narraway and Ziani Burgesson, flew to Barbados yesterday, where they will compete in the time-trial tomorrow and road race on Sunday.
“It’s tough to make forward-looking statements and anticipate podium results, but you know how well our guys are riding and we have high expectations for Alyssa, Kaden and Matt,” said Dunne, who also flew to Barbados with team manager Zoenique Williams.
“They have already proven their abilities this year at the Commonwealth Youth Games and there will be several individuals who were in Bahamas at this race.
“Of course, a few months can make a big difference in race readiness, but our guys have been focused on this weekend as their time to really shine in 2017.
“So for those three, who have been to Sweden, Bahamas, Vermont and Norway already this year to race at higher level races, this should be a big weekend.”
Oliveira missed last year’s championships because of illness, but hopes to improve on the two silver medals he won at his first international competition in the Dominican Republic two years ago.
“I’m really looking forward to this competition and have high expectations,” Oliveira said.
“I feel my best chances are in the time-trial and I believe Kaden, Conor and myself will do very well in the road race and hope to take a spot on the podium.”
Debutant White, who attends Brock University in St Catherine’s, Ontario, will miss out on the time-trial, as countries are only allowed two entries per category.
He should, however, strengthen Bermuda’s chances of medal success in the road race, where he will assist Oliveira and Hopkins in the junior men’s category for 17 to 18-year-olds.
“Conor has had a very strong year of racing here in Bermuda and he has continued his training since he started university in Canada two months ago,” Dunne said. “He will probably feel the temperature difference more than the others, as the temperature in St Catherine’s is probably 30 degrees lower than in Barbados. But he brings a third prong to our team tactics and will help make the race hard for the other countries.”
Rowse will compete in the junior women’s category for 15 to 18-year-olds, while Narraway and Burgesson will race in the pre-junior men’s division for 15 and 16-year-olds.
For Narraway and Burgesson, the championships will be more of a learning experience, although Dunne is confident of both delivering solid performances.
“They are both racing very well locally and on Sunday they turned in stellar performances in the 20-mile time-trial the BBA held along the North Shore,” Dunne said. “Both are savvy enough as racers to use their strengths to get a solid result.”
Although several countries have pulled out of the championships because of the hurricane season, Dunne still expects Bermuda’s riders to face some stiff competition.
“There are several countries who are not going to be represented and, therefore, make for a slightly smaller event,” Dunne said. “But with the exception of Puerto Rico, who will not have any representatives, the big competitors should be on the start line. Our team is prepared for this and there is an expectation of results.”
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