Smith and Hoey cause upsets
It proved a day of shocks in the Bermuda Road Race National Championships as Tyler Smith and Rose-Anna Hoey upset the order to claim top honours at Clearwater Beach yesterday.
Expectations were on Kaden Hopkins, Conor White, Dominique Mayho and Caitlin Conyers to challenge for supremacy, but it was not to be as Smith and Hoey surprisingly dominated their divisions to storm to comfortable victories and clinch the Open Male and Open Female titles respectively.
Hoey spoke of her shock after taking the crown in such a commanding performance, before hailing the tactics of her VT Construction Madison team-mates for helping to shackle pre-race favourite Conyers as she raced clear of all those around her.
“I'm absolutely delighted to be national champion, but I'm not quite sure how it happened,” said Hoey, who made a solo break on the third of four laps, before watching on from the finish line as the chasing pack battled in a sprint finish with Jamie Lee-Wright taking second ahead of Conyers.
“I'm more of a long-distance runner, so I'm used to endurance. I just tried to keep my head down and work as hard as I could. Sometimes you put the work in and get rewarded.
“It's a privilege to be national champion, but I have to salute my team VT Madison.
“We have an incredibly strong bunch of ladies and even when Caitlin went off ahead early we got together and chased her down. It took five of us to beat her. This isn't my victory this is our victory.”
There was an even bigger shock in the Open Male division as triathlete Smith led from the start line and did not look back to complete an impressive victory.
Having seen fellow pacesetter Jamie Cousins retire midway through, Smith was left to remain comfortably clear of the chasing pack, which saw Hopkins out sprint White and returning champion Mayho to the line.
Smith admitted the initial tactic was to support his team-mate Hopkins before finding himself unchallenged out in front, leaving the pack to battle for the remaining podium positions.
“To be honest, I know my weaknesses and I knew I wouldn't stand a chance in a sprint finish, so I relied on my endurance rather than tactics,” he said.
“My only chance of a good result was to race away early and midway through the fourth lap I decided it was time to go and rode the last 25 miles solo.
“I realised I had a chance to make the gap insurmountable and I just tried to keep the pace up.
“I knew if the guys caught me I had done what I was supposed to as a team-mate of Kaden and if they couldn't I'd get the win.
“I'm really proud to be champion and I can take some bragging rights over the cyclists for a year at least!”
Hopkins, who won last weekend's Bermuda Time-Trial National Championships, hailed the efforts of his team-mate to execute his tactics perfectly and clinch the title.
“Myself and Tyler spoke tactics this week and I told him if you're feeling it, get off on a break because I know how strong he's been recently,” he said.
“Tyler is an absolute beast and although he isn't the best sprinter, heading off on his own almost like a time-trial is when he is in his element.
“When I heard Tyler was 45 seconds ahead on the last lap I knew the race was gone and so I reserved myself for the sprint for second place.
“To get first and second as team-mates, you can't really ask for more. I'm so proud of him to be national champion.”
Much like last weekend's Time-Trial, the Junior Male Championship category was anticipated to be the fiercest fought and so it proved with Nicholas Narraway edging out Liam Flannery and Alexander Miller in a scintillating sprint finish.
Narraway, who was edged out by Miller last time out, was delighted to come out on the right end of a close finish this time round, finishing just a mere two-hundredths of a second ahead of his rival.
“I'm really happy, it was a hard race, but I'm delighted. It's a great feeling,” he said.
“It was close sprint finish but my wheel was a couple of inches ahead of Liam's, so I was pretty confident I had got it on the line.
“Liam went just a little early at the end; it's a long sprint and I just managed to get past him.”
It also proved a memorable day for Liana Medeiros, who added the Junior Female Championship title to her collection, having won the same division in the Bermuda Time-Trial National Championships last week.
Medeiros controlled the 30-mile race to cross the line ahead of sisters Jasmin and Zoe Hasselkuss who had to settle for fin second and third respectively.