OECS Road championships 2007 - NEVIS
The weekend of the 16th and 17th of June 2007 witnessed an important chapter in the ongoing story of cycling development on the tiny island of Nevis, the Nevis cycle & Triathlon Club were the hosts for the annual OECS cycling championships. Riders representing the OECS nations of St Kitts, Anguilla, Antigua, St Vincent, Tortola, St Lucia and Nevis, being joined by guest nation St Martin in the shape of the Mo Trouble Cycle Club, The St Martin Cyclers and the V8 Cycle Club, for a weekend of cycling celebration.
Defending champion Chris Ghiorse of Tortola was also there to defend his title, despite only having the back up of one team rider Mark Smith, Chris was determined to put up a good fight regardless.
The race format for the first day saw the introduction of the Team Time Trial, where the clubs/nations could field a minimum of 3 riders and maximum of 5 racing against the clock to cover the 20 km course between town and the airport and back as quickly as possible, with the 3rd rider over the line posting the teams time.
After a lottery draw to decide the starting order the event got under way, and what a spectacle it proved to be, the multi hued uniforms of the teams providing a blaze of color as they lined up beneath the Red Bull inflatable arch. The teams set off, and with a chase car following in case of mechanical problems the teams were started with a two minute interval between them. The Nevis team was hoping to take advantage of their local knowledge and pull off a surprise win, but the competition was fierce, and it was St Martins V8 club who won overall in a time of 32.29 mins with Grenada taking the title of OECS TTT champions by coming in second overall in 33.09. Team Nevis managed to come 5th of the 9 that teams entered with a time of 34.23.
A fine time was had by all the participants and the Nevis public was treated to a sight normally reserved for the large international competitions.
Day two, and what a beautiful day for the challenge of OECS champion of 2007, the elite male riders having to complete 5 laps of the 15 mile course, elite female 3 laps, novice riders 2 laps and the cadets 1 lap, a total of 48 riders, once again decked out in their splendid team colors.
After completing one parade style lap through Charlestown the riders were given the off and the race was on, the large group of riders shedding the slower competitors quickly as the pace warmed up almost immediately, with riders testing each others mettle with probing surges of speed. The pace would increase then settle down momentarily before another attack was launched, and thus it was the whole of the first leg out to the airport until finally Robert marsh of Antigua managed to escape off the front unchallenged, accompanied by David Nangapin of St Martins V8 club. Team tactics came heavily into play once it was clear that the breakaway two were not going to pulled back immediately, the Antiguan team shutting down any attempt by Chris to get away and the St Martin teams seemingly agreeing not to chase one of their own. The gap widened at every turn until a bold move by Tyrone Thomas of Grenada, who was seen charging across no-mans land, he was attempting to catch the leaders. Outnumbered and out gunned Chris had to uncharacteristically settle back in the chase group and hope for a chance, after 3 laps only Reggie and James of the Nevis team remained in the fight.
The fourth lap was the decider, Kris Pradel, riding for the V8 team surprised everyone by escaping from the pack and roaring across the now 6 minute gap to not only catch Robert and David, but to force the pace to such a degree that David was dropped leaving only Robert and Tyrone to deal with kris.
The riding strength of Kris proved too much for them all and he finished unchallenged for the overall win in a time of 3:25:39, followed by Robert Marsh who took the OECS champions title, with Tyrone in 3rd and David fourth overall. The only sprint finish came as 7 riders challenged for the 5th Place in the OECS championship, and the attending crowd were treated to a fine display of sprinting, with Nevis speed demon James missing out on the podium as he gave up his line to an ‘about to hit the barriers’ Anguilla rider, who thanked James afterwards for not forcing him to crash out.
An earlier fall had put Reggie out of contention, but he still finished to the jubilation of the attending audience, who screamed his name as he crossed the finish line.