Barry Bags’ BIG win with Bold Break
The second race in the Subway Classic Cycle Series took competitors over a 57 mile, challenging course (38 for women & juniors); three times around what is known as the eastern loop. The race got on the way with a short neutral section between Morritts Tortuga and the official race start at the Reef Resort alongside Subway, who are the sole sponsors of the series.
It was there that Barry Jones, in his typical ‘race from the gun’ style, upset the whole Subway Classic Cycling Series apple cart, with what can only be described as an audacious move; the kind not seen in local races in recent memory.
Languishing in 9th place, some 4:30min behind race leader Steve Abbott, Jones jumped out of the pack in an all or nothing move hoping to draw the sting of the favorites and cut the lesser riders who always seem to get to the finish with the leaders.
Riding with pure ‘panache’ he quickly built up a lead over the main pack as he scurried over the main climb on the eastern end of the Queen Highway. He was soon joined by 6th place rider, Dennis Brooks, who he waited for to ‘latch on’ after a mile long chase, and the two headed towards Old Man Bay with Brian Chin Yee and Brent Cunha in hot pursuit. Brooks, who came into the stage in a time 1min and 36sec better than Jones, added some additional firepower to the break as they tried to keep away from the chasing duo. For the next four mile Cunha and Chin Yee had the leading pair in sight, with the main pack riding leisurely some ways behind. Such was the pace behind that one could be forgiven for mistaking their pedestrian effort for a typical long training ride.
Jerome Ameline, not content to hang around, and sensing an opportunity to take back time slipped off the front of the peloton and again neither Abbott nor Michele Smith, who came into the day in first and second place, seemed interested in lifting the tempo too early, hoping that the move would fail.
Up ahead, the leading pair decided to ease of the throttle and recover a bit, allowing Chin Yee and Cunha to make the catch just after the Queen’s monument. A leading group of four would reduce the workload and be more effective; the idea behind the move.
Further back Ameline, a strong time trialist who only lay in 3rd place less than a minute behind Abbott, must have been surprised at the freedom afforded him, upped the pace and quickly set about chasing down to the leading four, eventually making the catch close to Botanic Park.
With no time checks on offer early on, the five went about solidifying their lead, however at the 10 mile mark the wheels literally and figuratively began to fall off. Cunha was the first to encounter difficulties when he started experiencing equipment failure ending any chances he had of a good result. As if that was not enough to dampen his spirits, an eventual flat tire was thrown in for good measure and he eventually limped across the line in 12th position, 31min 11sec behind the day’s eventual winner. Chin Yee for the most part just decided not to persist with the move as his fitness level was not there and eventually recorded a DNF.
This allowed Brooks and Ameline, who were on the front at the time, to open a gap on Jones who was unaware of what was going on. Sensing the potential danger to come, Jones reacted quickly and summoned a mighty sprint over to the leading duo, catching them just before the Frank Sound Junction and using up a lot of energy in the process.
Ameline, the strongest of the three and over 2min 08sec and 3min 30sec on Brooks and Jones respectively, and also only 1min out of the lead, had the responsibility to do the brunt of the work however and drove the group along with Brooks who assisted by taking his fair share of pulls on the front allowing Jones to recover.
For his efforts Jerome was rewarded with the maximum bonus seconds on offer at the three primes along the 57mile course. “It was a gentlemen’s agreement” said Jones. “He needed to take back as much time possible and we needed his time trialing ability to help us stay away. It was a partnership of convenience.
After only a single lap the trio had a 2min 30min lead on the peloton and with Ameline putting in some great pulls the leading trio entered the final lap with a 2 minute advantage over the rest of the pack.
As if almost by design the order across the second bonus sprint was a replica of the first with Ameline ahead of Jones and Brooks.
Behind the chasing group was reduced to approximately 20 riders by the efforts of Abbott and Smith, still holding out hope that the break would eventually fail. They however were seeing any chance of winning the race and more importantly the classics title disappear just like a mirage in the scorching morning heat which, took a toll on a lot of riders.
The next lap and a half went much the way of the 1st and it began to sink in that, not only could the break succeed, but that the series leader could change hands to any one of the riders in the break with Ameline the best positioned to do so.
This prompted a more concerted effort from the chase group with Smith and Abbott left to do all the work.
The leaders, working well together reached, the 10 miles to go mark still with a healthy lead. This however signaled the end of the road for Brooks who was suffering with illness since mid week. Having done a brilliant day’s work he became unstuck like a tubular tire in the morning heat and had to let Ameline and Jones go on without him. The two were left to go off in search of the finish line, both with slightly differing ambitions while Brooks dangled between them and the chasers.
With about 6 miles to go the duo was given a time gap of 1min and 8 sec to the chaser and it appeared that the chasers had broken the back of the move and that effort would be closed down before the finish line, as Ameline, who had put in a herculean effort, was starting to falter under the load.
Jones, whose contribution on the front was just enough to give some respite, could not sustain the same efforts produced by Ameline. He however encouraged him to forge on as he knew the others would start playing cat and mouse games behind allowing them a longer lease on life. The two went through the final sprint in the same order as they had done all day.
With fluid replenishment provided by race director and CICA President Craig Merren, encouragement and a showering from Jones to cool him off in the sweltering heat, Ameline dug deep and with Jones giving some assistance for measure while not trying to slow Ameline’s charge, the two made it to the last kilometer with the chasing bunch well out of site.
Further back Brooks had been caught by the battered and broken peloton, who were still trying to get on terms with the day’s racing. When the chasing group went through East End for the final time, Abbott took advantage of the undulating road and a strong head wind to attack, taking a small group of riders including Smith, Deysel and Steve Clements and Dennis Brooks, forming a smaller chase group. Of this group Smith was able collect the final 1sec sprint prime on offer with only a few more seconds on offer for the 3rd place finisher on the day.
A second group of approximately 12 riders contained all four of the lead riders competing in the masters category – Chris Sutton, Vico Testori, Jerome (Pilot) Begot and Laurent (Watchman) Weber. Sutton was immediately at a disadvantage because the other three masters had combined with Jerome (Revolution) Ameline to form the European speaking team of ‘Rapha’. David Cooke, who went off course in the time trial and only riding for single day honors, encouraged the chase group to work together to avoid losing too much time to the leading groups.
At the head of the proceeding Jones, who initiated the break, came around Ameline for the win and bonus 10sec on offer on the line, with Ameline’s reward for his efforts a fine 2nd place finish and a further 5 bonus seconds, but more importantly the series lead, a position he should be able to hold on to barring misfortune, as the series heads into the final two races. He now leads Jones, who rocketed up the overall standings in the series to 2nd place, by 3min 40sec; a seemingly insurmountable lead. With a good day work both men had achieved what they set out to do however based on the days racing there may be a lot more twists and turns before the series ends.
The day’s winner had this to say, “This was a special win for me as I have tried many times, in similar fashion, only to see my efforts scuppered sometimes with the finish line in sight. The closest I came before this was a blose 2nd place in the National Road Race back in 2011. I had planned to go from the start hoping that Jerome, in typical fashion, would be the one to chase me down because he lay in third place in the standings and would have aspirations of the overall win. And when he rode up to the lead group my plan was falling into place and I set about crafting the win. Orchestrating affairs as I had an astute sense and clarity about what had to be done. I now go into the final 2 stages needing to ride sensibly as I only have seventeen seconds on Steve and a bit more Mitch, but my ride today gives me confidence for the races ahead.
The third place honors, and final bonus seconds went to Steve Clements who was able to steal a march on the bunch into the run-in while all the other contenders watched each other. In the end he was able to put two minutes into them.
Having recuperated a bit Dennis Brooks tenacity allowed him to also break from the bunch and put 41sec into them to cap off a great day’s effort. Abbott crossed the line fifth with an exhausted Smith in 6th, both ruing the missed opportunity to defend their respective positions from the previous stage.
Former race Leader Steve Abbott had this to say about the day’s interesting events, “With the race lead riding away in the distance the peloton started picking up the pace, quickly quashing an attempt from Johan Heath and Steve Clements to break from the front. We continued to move at a steady pace before Pedro Gomez and Gaby clipped handle bars causing Pedro to dart dramatically off to the left and Gaby to also stop, both fortunately avoiding any serious damage to man or machine. We slowed in order to allow the two to rejoin, but despite the gamesmanship of the peloton, the break was moving away at an increasing rate, so the chase was back on before the two unlucky riders made it back.
The peloton again started moving at a steady pace, but this was not enough to reel in the escapees, and I hit the front and put the hammer, causing a split in the group and only three riders (Mitch, Steve Clements and Marius Deysel) able to match his pace. Seeing this split we continued at the increased pace and with Mitch and I working together the group pulled away from the peloton, maintaining a good pace in pursuit of the initial breakaway, mopping up riders who could not keep the pace with the leading break, leaving only Jerome Ameline and Barry Jones one minute in front.
However, as we hit the head wind, turns on the front started getting shorter until around Lovers Wall (10km to the finish) Mitch and I, both contenders for the May Classics jersey, decided that if both would not share the chase, no-one would. With that Steve Clements continued a steady pace, riding alone for the last part of the race, coming in 3rd, a whopping 2:30 back from the leading pair.
Ameline, the new race leader had this to say, “The ‘Subway” 2013 Cayman Classic’ this year is on another format, time and not points.
Abbott was leading after the 1st race and I thought it was already over even if we had 3 races to go. I was 53 seconds behind and it would have take only an escape in the road race to catch up so much time. So, that is what I did last Sunday, and to my surprise it worked better than I hoped for. Three of us escaped (Barry Jones, Dennis Brook and myself) and we quickly understood that we had to work together if we all wanted to gain something. I was interested on time so I took all the sprint time bonuses while Barry focused on the race win. I would have welcomed the race win, but rather concentrated on the overall leader competition. I won the 2012 Cayman Classic edition and knowing personally the 2013 “Subway” sponsor owners, I want to do my best to keep the title for this year. I am now the leader and I am going to work hard to defend it.”