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Oliveira and Hopkins continue tussle

Close encounter: Oliveira, left, and Hopkins, both of Winners Edge, were the top two riders in the Madison Road Race in Southside at the weekend

It was another dominant display of riding from the island’s junior riders, Matthew Oliveria and Kaden Hopkins in the Madison Road Race in Southside at the weekend.

Oliveira won the 40-mile race in a time of 1hr 38min 48sec, with runner-up Hopkins just over a second behind.

The two 17-year-olds continue their build up to the NatWest Island Games in Gotland, Sweden, next month where they will join Dominque Mayho, who is presently racing in Belgium, forming what is arguably the strongest Bermuda road team in many years.

In a strong category A field that saw the return of Madison rider Jamie Cousins who sustained a broken collar bone in February, as well as a welcome return of former top rider Steve Millington.

It was nonetheless something of an unenviable task trying to control the two youngsters whose aggressive attacking style of riding puts everyone under pressure from the start.

Sunday’s race was no different except that it was veteran Tracy Wright who fired the first salvo. His early attack though was quickly reeled in and the Oliveira was the next to try and break away but the experienced pack stayed close on his wheel keeping him under control.

It was then Hopkins who attacked on Kindley Field Road as the riders had to contend with strong cross winds. He quickly opened up a gap which would prove difficult to close.

A group of about six riders including Oliveira were left to chase. With the course taking the riders around the airport roundabout, along Kindley Field Road to St David’s Lighthouse and back to complete an eight-mile loop, Oliveira made his move on the steepest part of Lighthouse Hill breaking away alone and eventually bridging over to team-mate Hopkins.

From that point on it turned into a two man time-trial as the two worked smoothly together opening up a gap of almost two minutes over the chasers.

On the flat open finish it was Oliveira who had a little more left in the tank as he took the win. Madison rider Mace managed to break clear of the chase group in the closing stages taking third 1:44:7 behind the leaders.

In the B race Bicycle Works rider McQuinn Burch continued his winning ways solidifying his reputation as the top sprinter in the category.

In the four lap 32-mile race it was not clear that it would actually come down to a sprint finish with many of the strongest riders trying to break up the 31-rider field and at times appearing to have some success.

At one stage a group did manage to separate itself off the front but with some determined riding from a chase group that included the Bermuda women’s team for the Island Games, Nicole Mitchell, Zonique Williams, Alyssa Rowse and Gabriella Arnold, everything came back together on the final lap setting up a classic field sprint for honours.

It was McQinn who would take the win but with six riders all within a second of each other he had to call on all his experience with Winners Edge riders Gary Raynor and Rico Smith rounding out the top three,

With four of the island’s top women racing in the Adult B race only three women, Rose Anna Hoey, Ashley Estwanik and Sarah Bonnett all of Team Madison contested the A women’s race.

Despite the lack of numbers the three women still put in an impressive ride with Hoey and Estwanik breaking away and battling each other in their 32-mile race.

Hoey would prove the strongest on the day taking victory in 1:29:26 with Estwanik just over a second behind and Bonnett a distant third, setting up an exciting prospect for a highly competitive women’s race for the Sinclair Packwood Memorial Road Race on May 24.

Tokio rider Karl Wilson would take honours in the Adult C race turned into a tactical battle that eventually saw seven riders break clear of the 30-rider field. Wilson managed to get clear of the lead group with Winners Edge rider Tim Miller second and Madison’s Keino Williams third. In arguably the ride of the day, 67-year-old Glenn Franklin put all of his years of experience to good use finishing fourth.

Newcomer Caitlin Conyers, riding for Bicycle Works, was the winner of the women’s B category, with Winners Edge Eileen Mullowney second and Lindsay Palmer third.

The 7.5-mile Junior A race was won by BCA rider Tommy Marshall in another impressive performance that saw him over three minutes ahead of second place Blake Oliveira of Winners Edge and BCA’s Nazarai Fox third.