Smith Chalks one up in the Win column
For the second week running Barry Jones jumped out of the pack early to try and initiate a break, continuing his aggressive style of riding for the series so far. We had seen this before. De-ja-vu!
This time around however, Jones’ move was short lived as Steve Abbott quickly countered and, with no one following in tow, he set about gaining time on the peloton. And for the second race in succession Michele Smith, who was only 26 seconds out of the lead after the opening time trial, now laying in 4th place with a similar time difference to the third place slot, showed no interest in going on the offensive; content to let others make the running which has become his now too familiar signature style.
With Smith disinterested, Jones who is 2nd overall in the General Classification (GC) did not try to pursue Abbott, content in allowing the lone rider some freedom ahead of the bunch. This was a calculated move despite the fact that Abbott was in 3rd place in the GC, only seventeen second behind him.
“When Abbott came past me with no one in tow I didn’t panic and quickly assessed the situation. I decided that it would be better for me to go back the protection of the peloton. The pressure was off for me because I had won the week before. Furthermore the back side of the course was very windy and it would be hard to stay away especially with the likes Ameline and mainly Smith, who both had aspiration of a race win. Also the fact that Smith, who was 42 seconds out of 2nd place, was with me it meant that I would finish the day in no worse than 3rd position should Abbott stay away and accumulate enough points to take 2nd place,” said Jones.
Given room to ride Abbott quickly built up a 30 second lead, but with the peloton riding at a consistently high pace for the first three laps the pressure took its toll on lesser riders, including Steve Clements who lay in 5th place overall in the series, spitting them out the back with the passing of every lap, his lead was never extended further than that.
For the next 11 laps of the 1.4 mile course, the chaser who were now six strong, kept Abbott on a short leash and within sight, seemingly using him as the carrot for their chase while hanging him out to dry.
Unable to sustain his effort and with Ameline and Smith and Olivier Beauvais, visiting from Canada, driving the pace behind Abbott was eventually brought to heal.
For his efforts Abbott had taken two primes, a total of ten bonus seconds, reducing his deficit Jones and second place by eight seconds, as he too was able to accumulate some of the lesser bonuses. Ameline who was three minutes 57 seconds ahead of Abbott was not threatened by the move despite losing a handful of seconds.
The biggest looser to that point was Smith, who not only had conceded 4 sec but pushed himself further away from the 3rd, and final, overall podium position.
Smith has ridden the Subway Cycling Classics like a man disinterested in digging himself out of the lesser positions and more content with letting the likes of Abbott, Jones and Ameline make the running while he battled for minor bonuses here and there.
The catch of Abbott meant that relentless pace eased a little. This allowed Smith, Jones to take back some of the earlier lost time by taking the five and 3 seconds bonus respectively. Beauvais who rode a strong race with the lead chase group took the final bonus seconds on offer in the third and final prime as Ameline and Abbott, who was probably tired from his efforts, was unable to contest the sprint.
When the bell sounded signaling 3 laps to go after an hour of high speed racing, all of the major players including the top three in the series Ameline, Jones and Abbott in that order, were still in contention for the win and Jones was looking comfortable to repeat for the second week running. Smith, who is as dominant in the Circuit races/Criteriums as Abbott is in the time trials, had other ideas however. Holding 3rd wheel going into the final corner and barring any incident this was his race to lose.
Out of the corner for what was a relatively short sprint, Smith, Ameline, Jones and a conspicuous Marius Deysel, who never seems to put his nose to the business end of races except when the finish line is in sight, opened the throttles in a mad dash for the line. Smith immediately established a slight lead while Jones and Ameline battled tooth and nail for second place. Smith took the flowers by a bike length over Ameline who was able to hold off a fast charging Jones, piping him on the line for second place by mere inches. Deysel, who could not find a way between Jones and Ameline had to be settle with fourth while Abbott closed out the top 5. Beauvais took sixth position while Brooks, whose chain slipped before the last corner, came in sixth on the day, overhauling his deficit to Steve Clements who started the day in 5th place in the series.
Ameline, Jones, Abbott and Smith all go into the final race in that order for the series with the day’s battle of attrition having effected little change between them. Clement however was not so lucky relinquishing his 5th place to Dennis Brooks who again rode a super race, having only returned to the bike like Jones, after both had taking extended sabbatical from the cycling scene. Jones in fact had taken eighteen months off which seemed to have rejuvenated him.
With Vico Testori who finished third last week, opting to pass on the day’s racing, the other men, Jerome Begot, Chris Sutton and Laurent Weber, who made up the top four last week made up the top three this week, a similar finishing order. Vico’s absence means that he is no longer in contention for a top three finish overall in the series for the category.
Risa Golberg and Derron Kelly riding mostly in the company each other for most of the morning took the honors for the third week running in their respective categories. The second and third place in the women’s category saw a reversal of finishing order from last week as Ceretta Harvey was able to distance Katrina Ebanks for second place, with Ebanks coming in third.
Josh Weaver the only other junior in that category was able to make it successfully around the course for the hour to ensure that he is still in contention for second overall when the series concludes next weekend.
Chris Sutton, who finished second on the day in the masters category, defended his second place overall in the series had this to say, “I enjoyed the race and it went pretty much as I expected with the peloton splitting into three groups within 3 laps.
The strongest riders attacked and broke up the peloton earlier than in previous years. This is mostly because everybody is racing for time rather than points or position across the line. There appears to be more desire for riders to actually race from the start in order to try and drop or put time into their competitors. This in turn generates more attacks and the formation of allegiances between riders on the road who want to stay in the race by working in a group. It’s also interesting to see that the spirit of competition come to the fore causing frustration and cross words when certain riders in a chase group don’t take their turn on the front, just being happy to be pulled to the finish line. The slower riders are also motivated to keep up the pace in order not to be disqualified by being lapped by the leading riders.
And so it appeared that there were primarily three groups on the road – the elite and series competitors, strong riders and the masters and the other riders who were riding for the challenge of competition. The new road configuration at the public beach made the circuit a lot safer albeit slightly shorter but as the race was based on an hour plus 3 circuits all competitors found it exhausting but enjoyable.”
The Subway Cycling Classic Series continues this Sunday with the fourth and final race in the series, a criterium around George Town which should be an exciting and fast paced affair.Tweet this!