by Wayne Robinson
The Barbados Cycling Union’s racing programme got back on track over the weekend after a short break and Brandon Wilkie wasted no time in showing his class.
Thirty-two riders faced the starter for the two-hour criterium on the Fontabelle, St. Michael circuit and among them were Wilkie and Darren Matthews, recently returned from training in Columbia, as well Trinidadian Olympian Njisane Phillips and team-mate Varun Maharaj.
The event featured primes (paid incentives for selected laps) and there was excitement in the air even before the start. That excitement showed for the first couple of laps but the peloton was soon tamed by young Matthews of the G4S CGI team Swift who took the first prime in lap six without a challenge.
The peloton closed the gap shortly thereafter and remained intact for another couple of laps before Mathews again led a decisive break that was never really challenged. On that break with him was team-mate Wilkie, independent masters riders John Proverbs and Edward Julien and Edwin Sutherland of A Class Batteries Golden Wheelers, the lone junior to finish the race.
The race was controlled by the breakaway group from that point onward. In the interim several riders quit the race including the Trinidad entrants Phillips and Maharaj who both fell victim to mechanical problems. The main peloton which was made up of a variety of categories appeared to have given up the ghost and eventually fell a lap down to the break. The excitement in the race was lost until Wilkie and independent Tim O’Neal broke away from the now reformed peloton. They stayed away for a considerable time due the lacklustre effort from the chasing group but were eventually caught.
With only a few laps left Wilkie again made a bid for the front and escaped on his own never to be caught. He celebrated his maiden victory as a senior.†Sutherland rode a masterful race and was never off the lead lap and went on to win the junior category.
Tremaine Forde-Catwell of G4S CGI team Swift kept up his dominance in the tinymite category with another unchallenged victory. Darius Ramsammy of A Class Batteries Golden Wheelers retuned from a self imposed hiatus and edged out Jacob Kelly (tinymite riding a higher category) in the juvenile division. Edward Julien was also in his usual form and he took the masters’ category without a fight.
Proverbs, the lone age 50-plus master in the race, rode superbly as well and was never off the lead lap. Independent David Gilkes won in category 4.†The next event sees the return of stage racing after a number of years.
A three-stage race is scheduled for May 11 and 12. A time trial will roll off from Three Houses in St. Philip to Carrington factory and back at 6:00 a.m. on May 11. This will be followed by a criterium on the Constant circuit in St. George in the evening of that same day and a road race starting between the roundabouts at Life of Barbados and Graeme Hall on May 12.†††