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Dunne backs ‘strongest’ team to challenge for medals

Medal hunt: Mayho

Dominique Mayho will lead one of the strongest Bermuda cycling parties to compete at the NatWest Island Games when they race in Gotland this month.

Mayho, the defending criterium champion, is joined by Matthew Oliveira, Kaden Hopkins and Chequan Richardson in the men’s team, while the women’s foursome is made up of Zoenique Williams, Nicole Mitchell, Gabby Arnold and Alyssa Rowse.

Deshi Smith and Adam Kirk are also heading to the Swedish island to compete in mountain biking.

“It’s a strong team and also a deeper team than we’ve previously had,” Peter Dunne, the Bermuda Bicycle Association president, said.

“In the past we’ve had a couple of stars but not this kind of depth.”

Aside from winning the Individual Town Centre Criterium in Jersey in 2015, Mayho finished nineteenth in the Individual Time-Trial and twentieth in the Individual Road Race.

Mayho, who rides for Belgium amateur team Asfra Racing Team Oudenaarde, will be confident about his chances after finishing 35th at the Pan American Road Cycling Championships in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, last month.

Dunne said Oliveira and Hopkins, both newcomers to the biennial event, and Richardson will be working hard to support Mayho in both the criterium and road race.

“Clearly Dominique is looking to defend his criterium title and has good reason to think he can do that,” Dunne said.

“Dominique’s performance at the Pan Ams should give him a lot of confidence and his team-mates will be doing all they can to support him.

“The role of the guys on the road team, Matthew, Chequan and Kaden, will be to support the team leader which is very different than racing to win a local crit.”

Oliveira and Hopkins, still only 17, have been the pair to beat locally this season.

Oliveira retained his Butterfield Bermuda Grand Prix title in April after edging Hopkins in the third stage — the Hamilton Criterium, while Hopkins took revenge to claim his first Sinclair Packwood Memorial Race by beating his Winners Edge team-mate in a sprint finish.

Dunne believes the women’s team are also capable of challenging for medals, both individually and collectively.

Rowse, also 17, is another debutant and has been outstanding this season, winning the Butterfield Bermuda Grand Prix and Sinclair Packwood Memorial Race.

“The women have had two local races to develop their teamwork and this has been effective,” Dunne added.

“The guys do not have formal races to work together but certainly the regular weekly group rides will help with this.

“I’ll be satisfied if we achieve something on a team basis, to me that would be reflective of a deep team, based on the top-three finishers.”

Heavy rain forced the postponement of the Bicycle Works time-trial last weekend.

The BBA did not want to risk injury to any of their cyclists before the Games, which runs from June 24 to 30.

Bermuda’s cyclists will have another chance to warm-up for the Island Games, though, at the Time-Trial Championships in Clearwater, St David’s, on Sunday.