Juniors steal the show on tough course
There was a changing of the guard in Bermuda cycling yesterday with juniors dominating the adult classes in the Winner's Edge Road Race.
Matthew Oliviera, Kaden Hopkins and Jordan Dowling all put in impressive performances on a day of hard racing over the Island's toughest course, which started and finished at Police Headquarters in Prospect.
Hopkins and Dowling won the B and C races, while Oliviera placed third in the A race, where the top three were separated by just two seconds, with Chequan Richardson pipping Dave McComas in a time of 1hr 52min 30sec.
Many considered Shannon Lawrence, from Team Tokio, to be the man to watch after his comfortable win in last week's race, and aware of this the attacks started early on the six lap, 42 mile, affair.
A group including Richardson, his Bicycle Works team-mate Arthur Pitcher, Winner's Edge pair Anthony Bartley and Mark Hatherley, along with Deshi Smith, of Team Madison and Tokio rider Matt Aukland made an early move on the first climb of Cable and Wireless Hill.
With the group apparently working well together they extended their lead to almost three minutes at which point Lawrence and fellow Tokio rider Dave McComas began a powerful chase down.
Eventually reeling in the field, the attacks and counter-attacks continued until a group of six, Richardson, Bartley, Lawrence, McComas, together with Oliviera, and Bermuda Junior Athlete of the Year Tyler Smith, broke away from the field.
On the final lap Smith attempted an early break on Commissioners Hill, but with such a strong group it was short-lived.
As the riders jockeyed for the final effort, it was the ever-improving Richardson who made the final move as the riders turned onto Gymnasium Road.
In contrast to the cut and thrust of the A race, the B division was subject to a more tactical start, with any attempts to break up the field in the first two laps all pulled back.
However, shortly after the start of the third lap Hopkins, who has just turned 15 and moved up to the adult division this season, decided to test the pack on Cable and Wireless Hill, and by the time he reached the top he only had Dylan Hill and Andrew Hern, of Tokio, for company.
With the three main teams represented it could have easily seen the chase group sit up, however with Hern unable to maintain the pace set by the two youngsters the chase down was left to the nine riders of Tokio.
Sensing the danger, with Hopkins fresh off a win last week in the first race of the season and Hill second, they attempted to work a paceline to bring the two riders back.
However, Greg Hopkins of Winner's Edge refused to give up second or third wheel for the next three laps, interrupting the rhythm of Tokio despite the seemingly tireless efforts of Adam Hopkin, aided by Jason Piney and Andrew Soares.
Eventually the frustrated Tokio riders ran out of time, as Hopkins and Hill battled for victory.
Hill made the first move on the final climb of Commissioners Hill but faded and Hopkins broke away to win in a time of 1:40:16. Hill finished second in 1:40:32, and Peter Crayford of Tokio took third in a bunch finish.
If Oliviera's third place finish in the hotly contested adult A, and Hopkins impressive performance in the adult B were not a clear sign of the changing of the guard in local cycling, then the result of the Adult C race clearly erased any doubts.
Jordan Dowling, Winner's Edge, another junior who chose to move up to an adult division got into an early break with Tokio rider Randolph Smith.
Eventually pulled back by the field, and leaving Smith alone, Dowling stayed with the main pack. On the final lap, another youngster Alex Pilgrim, of Bicycle Works, and Winner's Edge rider Terry Thomas opened a gap on the now familiar race breaking hill at Cable and Wireless.
These two were also reeled in, and with the riders all back together the gruelling last mile was clearly going to set the stage for a tough finish.
Pilgrim again attacked but was pulled back, and as they turned onto Gymnasium Road it was Dowling's turn to make his move, riding clear to take the hill top finish in a time of 1:10:56, two seconds ahead of Thomas, with Ben Edwards taking a well deserved third in 1:11:00.
In the women's race, Karen Smith put her triathlon time-trial skills to good use, easing to victory in 1:13:41 more than a minute ahead of Wenda Roberts, with Lara Norman coming in third, some four minutes back.
In the Junior A Nicholas Pilgrim was first with Okari Williams second.
Mich Cook, Ziana Burgesson and Enshe-Nico Davis were the top three finishers in the Junior B event, and Blake Oliviera, Adrian McPhee and Liam Fannary were first, second and third respectively in the Junior C Race.