Raphael Meran beat the afternoon heat, as well as a classy Division One field of riders in the third stage of the Tobago International Cycling Classic, yesterday, in Plymouth.
Meran led a five-man breakaway in the first half of the challenging 50-lap Plymouth circuit, with German Michael Schweizer, riding for Team NSP, USA’s Michael Olheiser (Team Vita Malt) and Barbadian pair of Darren Matthews (Team Cocos) and Jamol Eastmond following closely on a day of hot conditions interspersed with welcome breeze.
The quintet opened out a lead on the main peloton that they would never relinquish, joining the bunch with a lap advantage with over ten laps to go.
Meran was out in front from very early, and made it clear that anyone in the main peloton would have to work hard and make an early move to catch him. Trinidad and Tobago’s Emile Abraham and Jonas Schmeiser (Team NSP)—the latter led Clixto Bello (USA/Team Cocos) by one point for the overall lead after Stage II—sat back in front of the bunch.
By 28 laps, it was clear that one of the top five would be victorious, as they had stretched that lead to 40 seconds on the rest of the field. A few laps later that advantage had stretched to one minute.
With less than ten laps left, Bello made his move, but he was always going to be stuck between the main peloton and the leaders. He crossed the line sixth, one spot ahead of Schmeiser. That result should mean that Bello has a narrow lead over Schmeiser heading into today’s fourth stage, although up to press time official overall standings were not yet available.
Abraham and Eastmond will be among 12 riders vying for “Fast and Furious” Keirin glory today after qualifying for the final in yesterday’s opposing heats.
In Division II, James Hadeed (Heatwave) made the third stage his with some smart riding. Loneliness is not generally a desired state, but he had no complaints after pumping out to the lead alone, before edging out Kirk Hern (Subway Slipstream).
Hadeed and Hern coasted for much of the race, watching the lead change hands from the safety of the main peloton, before Hadeed made his move with six laps to go.
By the time Hern began to attack in the final three laps, Hadeed had a 50-metre advantage that allowed him a comfortable victory. The duo were also able to avoid an all-out sprint, effectively for third place, that was won by Samuel Alleyne of Rigtech Sonics.
And Division III was won by unattached rider Mark London, who edged Tyler Cole (Sonics) in a sprint to the finish.
Action yesterday also saw mountain bike racing for the first time in Tobago, with 39 riders competing in three divisions.
Two laps of the Highland River Trail course—totalling seven kilometres each, including 300 metres of climbing—was the challenge, and Jason Costelloe showed why he is national mountain biking champion in his age category, clocking 51 minutes, 12 seconds to take the Open Division ahead of German Timo Scholz and 14-year-old Peter Sellier.
The largest group, the Sport Men Division, was won by Keive Wilson of Jamaica, with locals Zach Essau second and Kevin Maharaj third. In the Sport Ladies Division, Mariene Lubbers (Holland) was second, sharing the podium with T&T riders, winner Chastine Salazar and Sharon Rodriguez (third).
Today will see the second stage of mountain bike competition. The main event, though, will be the Scarborough Criterium, which pedals off at 8.30 a.m.
Yesterday’s Tobago Classic results
Division 1 (50 laps)
1. Raphael Meran (Dominican Republic/Team Foundation) 2. Michael Schweizer (Team NSP) 3. Darren Matthews (Team Cocos) 4. Michael Olheiser (Team Vita Malt) 5. Jamol Eastmond (Barbados) 6. Clixto Bello (Team Cocos) 7. Jonas Schmeiser (Team NSP) 8. Emile Abraham (Team Vita Malt) 9. Jaime Ramirez (Team Cocos) 10. Daniel Bichlmann (Team Merida Dohaugerchinger)
Division 2 (25 laps)
1. James Hadeed (Heatwave) 33:51.777 2. Kirk Hern (Slipstream) – 34.25.541 3. Samuel Alleyne (Rigtech Sonics) – 34:52.952 4. Georg Fechteipeter (Matrix Racing Team) – 34:53.197 5. Urba Bourne (Southampton) – 34:54.390
Division 3 (5 laps)
1. Mark London (unattached) – 9:37.750 2. Tyler Cole (Rigtech Sonics) – 9:37.881 3. Jabari Whiteman (Southclaine) 9:38.808 4. Andreas Koch (unattached/Germany) – 9:38.761 5. Sheldon Cockburn – 9:38.761
Keirin (final) qualifiers
(From Heat 1) Ryan Mullen, Euis Vidale, Jason Perrryman, Colt Peterson, Georg Targitzer, Emile Abraham
(From Heat 2) Jamol Eastmond, Fabien Danner, Connor Mullervy, Adam Alexander, Marc Codrington, Matt Crenshaw