SKN Independance Tour report - By Greg Phillip
The road race on the final day went very well. team St. Kitts & Nevis won in all three categories in the general classification.
After the ITT win James was the obvious captain and Reggie did well to control the race and protect him in the other stages but James had some bad luck. He had three laps in the last stage yesterday. On the first flat while Reggie was up front Alex was in the back close to him so he had to give him his back wheel, this happened by the Castrol sign in Camps, then by the time he got across the street to the Methodist church in Liburd Hill he had another flat and Matt had to give him his wheel. Reggie tried to slow the pace but St. Croix was working and knew what was going on so by that time someone was on the front opening a gap so Reggie had to keep them in sight. All this was on the first lap. James was working to get back on but could not but it was still early and he was at this time about a mile and a half back. By this time Reggie had two riders from St. Croix with him and the games began on the start of the climb in New River, at one point all they came almost to a complete stop as they all tried to resist riding on the front. Of course this was fine with Reggie as hopes began to grow that race leader James would rejoin the lead group. However ultimately St. Croix got their act together and got on with it putting Narian on the front with Juancito on Reggie's back wheel. Despite this the pace was slow on the first climb up Zion albeit not sufficiently pedestrian for James' reconnection.
The deadlock continued on the front until the start of the second lap from Pond Hill back to the Airport turnaround. Then both Narian and Juancito tactically launched attacks against Reggie, all of which he withstood. By this time is was clear that James will not rejoin, so the word went out to Reggie to assume the role of team leader which he did firmly stamping his authority as he launched a strong definitive attack on the second trip up Zion. Narian and Juancito had not an adequate answer although they tried, so that was the last of their contact with Reggie as he rode away to victory extending his lead to just over 14 mins. by race end. Meanwhile, James had yet another flat. Bad luck in such quantities are enough to deflate even the most race hardy cyclists, but thank God for teammates willing to make sacrifices, as Matt went to the rescue once again sacrificing his wheel to keep James in the race.
James' thank you to his teammates was emphatic and brilliant! He clawed his way back! He caught Narian on the hill in Gingerland just prior to the Pond Hill turn on the last lap and although Narian did well to stay in contact, he was off the back by the turn as James dug in for the fight to catch Juancito, refusing to settle for third place. However the task was more than him in this case, as Juancito rode in to take second in both the stage and the overall tour. James took third and Narian took fourth palce, both respectively in the stage and the overall standings.
Overall the battle was good and of a high quality. Reggie did well to come from 52 seconds down to win two of the three stages and take the overall tour. James' performance was brave and steadfast.
In the youth races the action was just as good. The ITT did it for Assim but he did not win the sprints against the St. Croix youth who he also raced against in Aruba. After the time trial he did not have to beat him with the lead he had so that was ok. Shaun and Trifon also did well. As you can see Trifon was in the mix in every stage except for the ITT. Shaun did well in SK but got a flat on one of the few remaining laps. Shari and Corey performed well also. I'm proud of them. The look of the future is encouraging.
Although Sasha is a youth the decision was taken to have her ride in the female category to ensure a competitive race for both her and St. Croix's Laverne. Sasha showed the extent of her progress as a cyclist. She won every stage in her race against formidable competition. Is this the first chapter in the making of the next dominant force in Caribbean female cycling?