Miller turns on the speed
New team Gnosis staged their first event on the Bermuda Bicycle Association's reduced calendar yesterday with a series of criterium events on a fast and technical half-mile loop course in Hamilton, which started and finished on Dundonald Street.
More than 80 riders in six categories would battle for honours. While there were only four riders in the A category, Kaden Hopkins, Alexander Miller, Nicholas Narraway and Liam Flannery made up for the lack of quantity by putting on a quality, fast and competitive 40-minute race that would have the spectators enthralled to the finish — and in doing so solidifying their status as the island's top riders right now.
With team alliances put to the side for the day, the youngsters decided to battle each other for victory and that is exactly what they did by setting a fast pace from the start. Throughout the event it was clear that Miller wanted to break away and he tried to do that in the early laps, but was reeled in by the chasers. Hopkins put in some hard attacks and at one point looked to be opening a gap, only for the race to come back together again.
This back-and-forth action continued until Miller again went off the front with about ten laps remaining and began to build a big advantage over the other three, with Hopkins seeming content to sit behind Narraway and Flannery. With Miller more than 20 seconds ahead, it looked like it was all over. But with six laps remaining, Hopkins burst off the front of the chase group in pursuit of the leader.
As Miller began the final lap, he suddenly found Hopkins back alongside him in contention for the race victory. However, Miller proved to have gauged his effort well when, on the penultimate corner of the race, he was able to open enough of an advantage to solidify victory. Some 40 seconds later, Narraway and Flannery emerged from the last corner almost side by side, with the former taking third.
Women's racing continues to see stronger and bigger fields, with nearly all the top riders on the start line for their 25-minute event. VT/Madison put together a powerful line-up and made no secret of their tactics, as they pushed a hard pace from the start and put several riders in trouble early on.
It was clear their goal was to put Caitlin Conyers, the winner of the previous race, into difficulty by isolating her from her Bicycle Works team-mates early in the race.
Playing a patient game, Conyers waited for the sprint bonus lap — the ninth — to make her move. Attacking off the front, she took advantage of the gap she opened and rode powerfully off the front for the remaining ten laps to take victory uncontested. VT/Madison's Ashley Couper finished strongly for second and Maddie Durkin was third.
The biggest field of the day was in the B category where 23 riders raced for 30 minutes with action right from the start. Bicycle Works clearly had a plan to send Clifford Roberts off the front. Paulo Medeiros, of Winners Edge, worked hard on the front of a long line of riders, with others joining in to take up the chase.
Roberts was reeled in and then other teams took their chance to open up the race, with Alan Mooney, of Gnosis, trying to make a move. Former top Bermudian rider Kris Hedges, who is working with the Bermuda junior team, was also very active with his young charges, but any attempts to get an advantage were nullified by the Bicycle Works riders. At the halfway point, their rider, Alan Potts, put in a strong move and opened a gap that held to the finish for a solo win. Second place was not so cut and dried, early leader Roberts emerging from the last corner neck and neck with Winners Edge rider Darren Glasford. They finished in that order with the same time.
In the C category, it would be another new face in the winner's circle, with Chris Nusum taking the honours, beating out perennial winner Ricky Smith and Peter Crayford, who was the Winners Edge Road Race winner in September.
From the start, Crayford and Smith took the race to the rest of the riders, opening up a gap by the end of the first lap. But Nusum and a few other riders stayed calm and slowly pulled them back with the rest of the field split into small groups around the course. With a lap to go, it was clear that it would come down to a hotly contested sprint, and coming out of the final corner smartly was paramount. Nusum timed his move perfectly and took the victory over Smith with Crayford third.
It was not just a day for the adult riders with two junior categories, 8-11 years and 12-14 years both getting their chance to shine with the BBA holding races for the younger riders on these closed courses. Jasmin Hasselkuss, Gordon Smith and Jackson Langley were the top three finishers. Jacob Wright, Makao Butterfield and Kelise Wade rounded out the 8-11 category.