Ten teams have registered so far for the Division One (Elite) category for this year’s 31st edition of the Tobago International Cycling Classic (TICC) which rides off on Wednesday.
Defending team champs PSL along Pharmaco, Heatwave, Jet Blue, Raiders, Veloclub Ratisbona, Econo, RC Schwalden, Embrace The World and St Vincent and the Grenadines are the squads confirmed to compete.
PSL will be aiming to retain their title with the first and second place finishers in last year’s Stage Race as well as the 2015 winner.
Van Der Zwet of Netherlands took the 2016 four-stage competition ahead of fellow-Dutch rider Nick Stopler. The victor two years ago Jamaican Marloe Rodman is also in the PSL line up.
PSL will have on board three more Dutch competitors Twan Brussellman, Peter Schulting and Martin Kelderman as well American Trevor Connor and Canadian Alex Bhugal.
Pharmaco will be spearheaded by former multiple champion and Tobago-born veteran Emile Abraham who is the lone local rider in the seven-member line-up.
He is joined by Americans Ben Kema, Winston David, Parker Kyser and Corey Davis. Guyana’s Raymauth Jeffrey is the seventh rider. Abraham, the 2007 Pan American Games Road Race silver medallist, will be riding in the event for the first time since 2015 when he announced his retirement from national team duties. The Atlanta, USA based rider has been enjoying much success in the Masters Category in the US.
Top ace rider Njisane Phillip is the leading name on Jet Blue. The two-time Olympian will be joined by fellow locals Lorenzo Orosco, Varun Maharah and stand-out junior Tyler Cole. Antigua and Barbudan Jyme Bridges and Romello Crawford of Guyana will also wear the colours of Jet Blue.
Raiders will rely on the 2015 (Adderly Cruz Colon of the Dominican Republic) and 2013 (Dennis Ramirez-Colombia) Tour winners. Alexander brothers, Joshua and Adams, are the lone local riders in the eight-member team.
Veloclub Ratisbona and RC Schwalben will feature all-German teams while Embrace the World will feature four Germans and one Swiss rider.
Argentine Jose Luis Rivera, Colombian Jhoan Sabatian Caicedo, Andres Camilo Pedroza and Christian Torres, American Arian Kaini and Ben Foster and Denmark’s Amid Pederson will ride for Econo. St Vincent and Grenadines outfit will include three Vincentians and one St Lucian.
Chairman of the TICC Jeffrey Charles is describing this year’s field as extremely competitive given the quality of riders on the teams.
“This the first time in a while that all the teams have at least one top rider who can win the (UCI 1.2) Tour (of Tobago). This is one of the most competitive in many years,” he said.
Abraham arrived in Trinidad on Thursday and Van Der Zwet was expected yesterday afternoon. Rodman is due in Tobago on Tuesday.