Rodriguez, second from left, celebrates his UCI Tour of Tobago win with some of the other riders who also picked up prizes. From left are Michael Olheiser, who finished second, top Under-23 rider William Guzman of Dominican Republic, and third-placed Calixto Bello of the US.
—Photo: Kern De Freitas
Colombian Rodriguez pedals away with ‘Tour’
Kern De Freitas Tobago
Colombian Jaime Rodriguez saved the best for last, as he stole the show to bring the curtain down on the Tobago International Cycling Classic yesterday, coasting home to a big UCI Tour of Tobago win at the Scarborough Esplanade finish.
By the time the second rider, USA’s Michael Olheiser, pedalled across the line in Team Vita Malt colours to finish the UCI (International Cycling Union) sanctioned event, he was three minutes, 29 seconds behind Rodriguez.
The riders were hunting valuable ranking points, which will contribute towards their qualification for events such as world championships.
Home favourite Emile Abraham didn’t quite finish the course, as he returned to Scarborough in the Team Vita Malt vehicle, but he would have been happy to cheer on teammate Olheiser, who did well to finish second despite a nasty spill in the first half of a difficult, island-wide course.
Almost two minutes back from Olheiser was Calixto Bello (Team Cocos/USA), who was close to lifting the “Classic” title until a spill in Stage Four on Saturday. Up to then he was in the lead.
Fourth in was German Jonas Schmeiser (Team NSP), while his countryman Frederik Dombrowski (Matrix Racing Team) was fifth.
Dombrowski won the prize for being the first Under-23 finisher at the event, while William Guzman (Team Foundation/Dominican Republic) was the top Caribbean rider in 12th spot. Gevan Samuel was the first T&T cyclist to finish the race.
The race took riders from Scarborough along the western coast of Tobago, through Mount Irvine and Great Courland Bay, and down to Mason Hall. Northside Road brought cyclists back toward the North Coast and Castara Bay and Hermitage, before making the loop past Charlotteville down the East Coast.
Riders then headed along the south to Hillsborough Bay, before returning to Mason Hall, and then to the Scarborough Esplanade finish line.
Before the race began the weather looked threatening, with some showers blessing the island, but the hot sun popped out and followed the riders most of the way.
It was a competition until Rodriguez took on the first hill on the North Coast of Tobago.
Olheiser’s crash only cemented the Colombian’s advantage, and he would not relinquish it from there.
The day was made lively with lots of Tobago children participating in a fun ride. Eight young riders took home prizes of bikes, and none of the participants went home empty-handed.
It ended a long week of cycling that saw five days of exciting racing, as well as the introduction of mountain biking.
The first four days of racing--before yesterday’s UCI-sanctioned “Tour”—saw Rafael Meran (Dominican Republic) of Team Foundation emerge top rider, with 84 points. He was followed closely by Schmeiser (82 points), who finished second.
Bello (65) was third, with last year’s Classic champ Darren Matthews (Barbados; 59 points) fourth and Olheiser (57) fifth. Abraham (42), despite a number of spills, ended in eighth position.
Division II was won narrowly by German Georg Fechteipeter (Matrix; 19 points), who edged T&T’s Ronald Moses (Subway Slipstream; 18) by one point after the latter had a serious spill on the turn for home in Stage Four.
James Hadeed (Heatwave; 16), Kirk Hern (Slipstream; 16) and Urba Bourne (Southampton; 14), all T&T riders, were third to fifth, respectively.
And it was no surprise that unattached rider Mark London took Division III with a comfortable six-point lead. Tyler Cole (Rigtech Sonics), Sheldon Cockburn, Andreas Koch (Germany) and Jabari Whiteman (Southclaine) rounded out the top five, in that order.
UCI Tour of Tobago results
1. Jaime Ramirez (Team Cocos/Colombia) – 3:41:55.604 2. Michael Olheiser (Team Vita Malt/USA) – 3:45:24.311 3. Calixto Bello (Team Cocos/USA) – 3:47:21.373 4. Jonas Schmeiser (Team NSP/Germany) – 3:48:10.348 5. Frederik Dombrowski (Matrix Racing Team/Germany) – 3:48:25.810 6. Conor Mullervy (Team Vita Malt/USA) – 3:49:49.267 7. Andreas Keuser (Team Merida Donaueschinger/Germany) – 3:49:49.505 8. David Kessler (Team Rio Grande/USA) – 3:49:49.622 9. Daniel Bichlmann (Team Merida Donaueschinger/Germany) – 3:49:50.018 10. Patrick Ericsson (J Jensen-Ramirent) – 3:49:50.400