Butterfield adds intrigue to Bermuda Day cycling race
Tyler Butterfield will compete in the Sinclair Packwood Memorial Race for the first time in 16 years to add another element of intrigue to the Bermuda Day event.
Butterfield had hoped to challenge for a third title in the Bermuda Day Half Marathon Derby but withdrew from the race because of a calf strain last week. Despite his niggling injury, Butterfield has no issues while cycling and will join Dominique Mayho, the two-times winner, Matthew Oliveira and Kaden Hopkins as the main contenders for victory.
Although Butterfield is the most experienced of the foursome, as a former professional cyclist for American team Slipstream Sports, he does not believe he is the favourite to claim what would be a maiden title.
His best finish came in his previous outing in 2002, placing second before being whisked back to Somerset by boat for the marathon derby in which he came fourth.
“I wouldn’t put myself as the favourite,” Butterfield said. “I think Dominique, Matthew, Kaden and myself are all pretty equal. The fact they race bikes more than I do, I’d put my money on them. I’ll try my best as it will be more satisfying for whoever wins if they’re made to work for it. Hopefully I can add some interest to the race, and interest within the race, but the young guys are so fast and I wouldn’t be surprised if they put the hurt on me.”
The emergence of teenage talents Oliveira and Hopkins, both former race winners, excites Butterfield, who believes cycling is enjoying a similar boom period in Bermuda to his sport triathlon.
“Cycling in Bermuda is very strong right now,” he said. “It’s nice Matthew and Kaden have each other because they’re similar ages. Then you have Dominique back on the island to show them the ropes.
“We did a training ride at Christmas and you can tell Dominique has the racing experience from competing in Europe. The younger guys will soon get that as they compete more overseas.
“It’s cool to have someone like Dominique showing them. I had Jonathan Herring the same age as me and we raced against each other. Ahead of me was Elliot Hubbard and Kris Hedges, who I looked up to. You need those stepping stones.”
Butterfield, the marathon derby winner in 2013 and 2014, would become only the second man behind Jeff Payne to win both the Bermuda Day run and cycle races. Payne etched his name in the record books when he won the Heritage Day race, as it was previously known, as a 58-year-old in 1998.
“The last time I did [the race], I did the bike race and then took a boat back up for the run,” Butterfield recalls “You can’t do it now because the run starts earlier than it used to. It would be cool to win both races.”
Butterfield, who set a national record in the marathon at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, last month, plans to race in the marathon derby next year.
“After looking back through old photos [of the race], I’m definitely going to try to do it next year and maybe the year after,” said the 35-year-old.
“As I get older I want to do races I enjoy and May 24 is definitely one of the best races in the world. To have that many spectators in your home country for a race is just a neat experience. That’s why we get so many people doing it every year.”
Mayho slid out entering the final corner of the 2014 race, scuppering his chances of claiming a hat-trick of wins and joining Hedges and Wayne Scott with the most titles.
The 24-year-old has not competed in the most prestigious race in the local cycling calendar since and believes Butterfield poses a major threat to his chances of victory.
“I’m hoping to match Kris Hedges and Wayne Scott, who have the most wins,” said Mayho, who missed the previous three races as he was competing in Belgium. “Hopefully one day I’ll be able to go past them.”
Mayho has altered his tactics with Butterfield in mind, but holds the advantage if it comes down to a sprint finish entering Cedar Avenue, the all-important final corner.
“Tyler will be the strongest person and now my plan has changed,” Mayho said. “Tyler is used to riding hard for a long time and can just pull everyone back.
“If you attack too early it’s a waste because he will be able to claw you back. As long as I don’t let him get away I have a chance.
“He hasn’t done a bike race for a long time, but he’s still really strong. If it comes to a sprint I’ll always back myself.”
Hopkins, who became the first son of a champion to win the race last year — his father Greg Hopkins triumphed in 1999 — expects Friday’s race to be the most competitive in recent memory.”
“Last year we didn’t have Dom, which was a massive factor [in Hopkins’s win] because he seems pretty much unbeatable over the short distances. Then you have Tyler coming down. He’s so strong and it’s going to be interesting.”
Although his chances of repeating last year’s feat are that much harder, Hopkins is excited to be able to test himself against the island’s top two riders.
“It’s great to use those two as an example,” Hopkins said. “Tyler has competed against the best in the world and Dom been away racing in Belgium.
“It’s a massive motivation for me to try and achieve the same things [Mayho] has.
“To get to race alongside Tyler and Dom with all of Bermuda watching is pretty exciting.
“Plus, you also have Matt [Oliveira] who has been racing overseas. I know they will all be strong, but I feel if I race smart I have a chance of staying with them. It’s going to be tough.”
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