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Oliveira’s dominance knows no bounds

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The only way is up: Oliveira celebrates on Cedar Avenue after his maiden victory in the Sinclair Packwood Memorial Race (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Matthew Oliveira’s breakout season just keeps getting better after the teenager realised his dream of winning the Sinclair Packwood Memorial Race yesterday.

The 16-year-old has been a thoroughly dominant force this season and continued to tighten his vice-like grip by reaching another milestone for ambitious riders on the island.

Described as the closest thing to a lottery in Bermuda by former race winner Greg Hopkins, Oliveira punched his winning ticket in style by finishing the 12-mile contest in a time of 24min 30.938sec.

Dave McComas of Team Tokio was second across the finish line on Cedar Avenue in 24:34.039, with Darren Glasford, Oliveira’s Winners Edge team-mate, placing third in 24:37.510.

Prior to the race, Oliveira, who is more suited to longer distances, had merely targeted a top-five finish and admitted his latest triumph “sent chills down my back”.

“It feels amazing; it’s a dream, it’s a dream,” Oliveira said. “The whole ride from Somerset to town I heard people shouting ‘Matthew’, especially when I was coming past my neighbourhood [Luke’s Pond Road, Southampton] where I saw everybody.”

Last year’s Bermuda Bicycle Association Junior Rider of the Year made special mention of his Winners Edge team-mates who helped pave the way for his victory.

“I didn’t want to leave it to a sprint and I made my move on Queen Street, held it around the two corners and made it to the finish line,” Oliveira said.

“I have to thank my team-mates Mark Hatherley, Kaden Hopkins, Anthony Bartley and Darren Glasford, as it would not have been possible without them.”

Oliveira will now turn his attention to next month’s Caribbean Cycling Championships in St Lucia, looking to improve on the two silver medals he won at last year’s competition in Dominican Republic.

“This season is amazing compared to last year,” said the Warwick Academy pupil. “I’m so happy and [this win] is definitely a confidence booster. I know my strengths now and I know what I’m capable of.”

McComas had hoped to go one better than his second-place finish last year but admitted that Oliveira had developed into a far tougher proposition than 12 months ago.

“Matthew is extremely talented and it’s a lot of fun racing against him,” McComas said. “Last year I always seemed to get the better of him by one place but now it’s reversed. It’s more of a challenge now as it seems he’s got bigger, stronger and faster.”

McComas said the chaotic nature of the race made it difficult to formulate a plan.

“The pack was really, really competitive, really bunched up,” he said. “People were fighting for position and at one point I got caught in the middle and I didn’t know how I was going to get back up.

“Some daylight opened up and when I hit the front I was feeling good. I made the break before Burnt House Hill and had Hatherley on me.

“We were going to work together but he was a bit gassed and than doomed the break.”

Glasford, who won the title in 2011, said the pace of the race was quicker than he had anticipated.

“It was fast, really fast as there was a tailwind,” he said. “Hatherely and McComas made some nice moves at Burnt House but got pulled back.

“Hatherely went again on East Broadway but Mark Robinson pulled him back. Then you had Kaden Hopkins who was doing a lot of work.

Glasford added: “Matthew Oliveira was the off the hook. The goal was for one of us to win the race and I’m on the podium, so that’s cool.”

In the women’s race Gabriella Arnold took the honours with a time of 35:28.562, with Sarah Bonnett second in 32:42.002 and Nicole Mitchell third in 32:43.002.

Under starter’s orders: cyclists line up in Somerset (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)