4th Annual Antigua Vacations Ltd Shirley Heights Challenge cycle race took place Sunday despite inclement weather. The highly promoted and anticipated race had a great turn out although it took place hours before the passage of Hurricane Earl. The cycle race had the presents of Seaview Farm’s representative, Hon. Chanlah Codrington and Hon. Eleston Adams. The race started approximately 10:15 am and as soon as the riders got the start signal BVI’s Darel Christopher took off to led the race out of the village of Seaview farm. But OECS Champion, Jyme Bridges came out to prove why he is the best in the OECS. Bridges attack the 27 riders start group as soon as the race reach the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium with only Robert Marsh able to match his speed.
The 20 old rider surged again as he and Marsh approached Parham corner, this surge was too much to match by Marsh leaving Jyme to lead the race 2 miles into the 45 mile race. Marsh was later caught be the main group as they rode to catch back the lone leader. The group start closing in on him as they approached the Red Hill area but Bridges came out with fire in his eyes as he opened back the lead by almost 2 minutes in toughest part of the race, Shirley Heights climb. After descending Shirley Heights Jyme knew he could not be caught except for mechanical problems. Bridges comfortably sprinted to the finish line to capture his 7th victory for the season, beating his closest rival by over 5 minutes to walk away with the Antigua Vacations LTD $1500.00 cash purse.
Bridges won the 45 mile in an amazing 2 hours, 2 minutes and 56 seconds, 4 minutes faster than last year’s event to clock the fastest time ever on the course. Robert Marsh crossed the finish line all alone to place 2nd in a time of 2:08.02 ahead of his teammate Dale Richardson who did a commendable ride, placing 3rd in a time of 2:10.01. Marvin Spencer and Ken Jackson sprinted for 4th with Ken Jackson had the better sprint, Jackson placed 4th in time of 2:13.02 ahead of Marvin Spencer who was 5th. Marvin suffered a puncture in the bad road section in Christian Hill village which he had a poor wheel replacement service but manager to redeem himself, catching and passing several riders to work his way back up to 5th place.
B-Class, Abevia McDonald has little or no competition as Antigua’s lone junior rider was the only B class rider to finish amongst elite riders. The 18 year old riders won the 40 mile rider in a time of 2:16.01 over 3 minutes ahead of an improving Alvin Merrick who placed 2nd in a time of 2:19.06. Andre Simon was 3rd clocking a time of 2:20.07. Race favorite Timothy Thomas placed 4th.
A bit of bad luck affect Tamiko Butler winning streak since she returned to the racing arena. Tamiko who confirmed this week that she will set her focus on become a professional cyclist suffered a puncture in the bad road section in Christian Hill village and was unable to finish the race because she did not had a spare wheel. However, an improving Lindsay Duffy had an easy race after Tamiko was forced to abandon the race. Duffy won the 30 mile female race in a time of 1:59.04, beating her rival by an amazing 46 minutes who was Dorothy Graham placing 2nd in a time of 2:46.03. Keitha Mannix was also force to abandon the race after suffered a puncture and was not equipped with a spare wheel.
The Antigua and Barbuda Cycling Association will like say a special thank you to Antigua Vacations Ltd for coming on board as the title sponsor, Frank B. Armstrong and Lucozade for the race refreshment, Royal Police Force for a job well done on the safety and control of the race with officers placed at all the pertinent junctions, Photo Fantasy Antigua, Bike Plus and Observer Radio 91.1 – Snake Pit show for the mileage given to the sport. Recognition also goes out to Hon. John Maginley for the sponsorship of a portable Yahama Generator a welcome donation to assist the race officials with the powering of the AMB i.t. Race timer system.
The next race is schedule for Sunday 12th September; Scrubbo’s Auto Repairs Individual Time Trial, 3pm, Police Recreation Grounds.
Note: Photo complements: Photo Fantasy Antigua - from left; Representative of Antigua Vacations Ltd, Robert Marsh, Jyme Bridges and Dale Richardson