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Mayho cements place as island’s best

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Early morning thunder, lightning and heavy rain did not deter the islands top road cyclists from challenging both the adverse weather conditions and each other yesterday.

The action was guaranteed to be fierce in the Male Open race, especially with Dominique Mayho, the island's top rider, taking a break from his racing in Belgium to come back and attempt to lift the title.

With UCI points at stake, and a win opening the door to major international events, the race has as much significance internationally as it does locally.

The unenviable task of trying to control Mayho, who rides for Team Madison, fell squarely on the shoulders of the other major teams, among them Winners Edge, Tokio, and Bicycle Works.

When the 67-mile race got under way it was clear that it was going to be a tough day for everyone, including Mayho, as a number of riders set a fast early pace on the first of five laps.

Travelling west on Kindley Field Road to Swizzle Inn roundabout the riders completed the first of two loops around Harrington Sound before going back to Southside and then completing four more laps of a shorter loop, which took them back to Swizzle Inn and then to the finish.

On the completion of the first loop of Harrington Sound Mayho decided to test the rest of the field in an effort to keep the already high-paced race active, and in doing so opened up a gap.

As he looked behind he saw two riders, Phil Mace, his team-mate, and Mark Hatherley, of Winners Edge, attempting to bridge, and not wanting to attempt a solo ride for the remaining 60 miles he eased up to make a breakaway group of three.

With these three in a break the writing was on the wall with the pressure now on Dave McComas, and his Tokio team-mates, and Neil De Ste Croix's Bicycle Works to orchestrate a chase.

With the three leaders working tirelessly together they continued to open up the gap, but with the big chase pack they had no time to relax, and with the rain now passed and the sun out, the heat and humidity looked to be the biggest challenge.

As the miles ticked by strong efforts by a number of riders to reel in the leaders came to nothing, and it was Mayho who expectedly made the decisive move in the final stages of the race, dropping his breakaway companions to secure his title unchallenged at the finish line.

Mayho finished in 2hr 44min 38.327sec, some 40 seconds ahead of Mace, who outsprinted Hatherley on the line with the three riders deservedly rounding out the podium positions.

The women's 42-mile race over four of the shorter loops looked to be an interesting event with all the strongest riders on the start line, but no standout favourite. This promised a much more closely contested affair than the men's race.

Gabriella Arnold, the Sinclair Packwood Memorial Road Race winner, Zonique Williams making a rare appearance following sickness this season, Karen Bordage and Karen Smith were all names being bantered around for the win, with Ashley Estwanik a newcomer to bike racing expected to challenge.

With the junior women starting at the same time, Alyssa Rowse, despite riding one lap less, was clearly going to be a major factor. After a cautious first lap Bordage and Williams made a break and opened up a lead that would last for more than half a lap, with Estwanik at the fore in the attempt to pull them back just before the turnaround at Swizzle Inn roundabout.

At the end of the third lap Rowse rode off the front to take the win in the Junior Women's race, winning her first National Championship with Cassandra McPhee coming in second.

After a series of attacks taking place the field was reduced in number as riders were dropped, with a pack sprint now appearing inevitable.

On the final lap Bordage, of Team Tokio, made a strong attack off the front which she impressively held to the finish, holding off a late charge from Winners Edge pair Nicole Mitchell and Karen Smith.

In the much anticipated Junior Men's race, also of 42 miles, Matthew Oliveira started as the favourite after a road season that has seen him dominate local racing in the top men's A category.

However, with Kaden Hopkins, his Winners Edge team-mate, who also races in the top adult category and was only five seconds behind Oliveira in last week's Time Trial, many wondered if this would be a breakthrough race for the 16-year-old.

With Dylan Hill, Robin Horsfield, the national mountain bike champion, and Rajul Matthie also looking for the win it was clearly going to a big battle for the title.

The first two laps finished with the field intact with nobody able to break the deadlock, but that all changed when on the third lap Oliveira, Hopkins, Horsfield and Hill broke away and opened up an insurmountable lead over the rest of the field.

With Oliveira making a number of attacks Hill was gapped, but after a spirited chase rejoined the others. Oliveira made another move, Hill chased him but was caught in the middle, and Horsfield, with Hopkins on his wheel, put in a strong effort, pulled the four back together, but then paid for his efforts and had to drop off the pace.

With just three riders left to contest the finish, the podium was decided but on what order? On the final 500 metre finishing straight Oliveira drove the pace on the front, Hill closed him down and in a classic sprint finish Hopkins timed his final effort to perfection as he powered past the two and to claim the National Championship title.

Streets ahead: Mayho raises his arms after crossing the finish line in Southside, St David's (Photograph by Phil Trussell)
Back in the saddle: Zonique Williams (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Giving chase: the pack work hard to try to reel in the leaders in the male open division, (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Ready to go: Bordage, left, and Estwanik have a brief chat (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Hauled in: Oliveira lost in a sprint for the line (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Road Race National Championships (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published June 27, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated June 27, 2016 at 8:16 am)

Mayho cements place as island’s best

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